Revisiting the Beighton Criteria: Does Ligamentous Laxity Testing Correlate With Shoulder Range of Motion Norms in a North American, Pediatric Population?

Sean V. Cahill, Melinda S. Sharkey, Cordelia W. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background:Ligamentous laxity testing using the Beighton score is frequently used as part of the pediatric shoulder examination. However, the relationship between generalized ligamentous laxity (GLL) and shoulder range of motion (ROM) remains unexamined in children, and normative data for these clinical tests have not been well established. In this study, we establish normative data for shoulder range of motion and GLL in a healthy, diverse pediatric population and investigate whether Beighton testing correlates with shoulder ROM in children.Methods:Healthy subjects age 2 to 18 years with isolated lower extremity complaints were recruited. Passive shoulder ROM measurements for forward flexion (FF), abduction (ABD), internal rotation (IR), external rotation (ER), and extension (EXT) were obtained using a long-armed goniometer. The Beighton score was obtained, with a positive test defined as ≥5. Descriptive statistics were used to stratify data on the basis of age and sex. Interclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated. Spearman's r was calculated to determine correlations between the Beighton score and shoulder ROM. Predictive indices of a positive Beighton test to identify patients with high shoulder mobility (ROM in the top 15 percentile, or 1 SD above the mean) were calculated.Results:A total of 202 subjects were enrolled and evaluated. Passive ROM norms by age and sex were determined. Intraclass correlation coefficients for all shoulder ROM measurements were substantial to excellent. Female individuals had greater ROM than age-matched male individuals, but this trend was largely statistically insignificant. Pearson's correlation between age and shoulder ROM was significant for FF, ABD, EXT, and ER (r=-0.52 to -0.20, P<0.001). Based on a Beighton score of ≥5, the prevalence of GLL was 10% in male and 15% in female individuals. Spearman's correlation between Beighton score and shoulder ROM was significant for 3 of 5 ROM measurements: FF, ER, and EXT (r=0.30 to 0.39, P<0.001).Conclusions:Normative pediatric shoulder ROM and joint laxity data have been established in a healthy, diverse population of children. Beighton testing exhibits only a weak to moderate correlation, despite statistical significance, with shoulder ROM and is poorly predictive for high ROM in children.Level of Evidence:Level I - Diagnostic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-542
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Beighton criteria
  • glenohumeral instability
  • growth and development
  • ligamentous laxity
  • pediatric shoulder
  • range of motion
  • shoulder
  • shoulder range of motion
  • upper limb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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