Translations of the humerus in persons with shoulder impingement symptoms

Paula M. Ludewig, Thomas M. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Study Design: Two-group mixed-model analysis of covariance and correlation analysis. Objectives: To determine whether differences in humeral translations exist between patients with shoulder impingement symptoms and an asymptomatic comparison group, and if so, to determine if shoulder range-of-motion (ROM) measures are associated with abnormal translations. Background: Abnormal translations of the humeral head are believed to reduce the available subacromial space and to contribute to the development or progression of shoulder impingement symptoms. These abnormal translations have also been theorized to be related to tightness of the posterior capsule and decreased shoulder ROM. Methods and Measures: Three-dimensional humeral translations were tracked in symptomatic construction workers and an asymptomatic comparison group while elevating the arm in the scapular plane under no-load, 2.3-kg, and 4.6-kg hand-load conditions. Between-group comparisons were made across 3 phases of motion (30°-60°, 60°-90°, and 90°-120°) and the association between humeral translations and cross-body adduction and shoulder internal rotation ROM measures were determined by Pearson correlation analysis. Results: Persons with shoulder symptoms demonstrated small but significant changes in anterior-posterior translations of the humerus. These changes for the 90°-120° phase of humeral elevation were moderately negatively associated with available cross-body adduction ROM. Conclusions: The identified kinematic deviations are consistent with possible reductions of the subacromial space. Further study of relationships between posterior capsule tightness, rotator cuff function, and abnormal humeral translations is warranted to better delineate underlying kinematic mechanisms that may contribute to shoulder impingement symptoms and to refine rehabilitation techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-259
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Biomechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Shoulder motion abnormalities


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