The examination of the shoulder complex is a challenge for many practitioners. For any musculoskeletal condition, especially one that is associated with the shoulder joint, it is important to obtain a thorough history and physical examination, both of which are essential to reaching a diagnosis. For many disease entities, a diagnosis can often be accurately reached without the use of imaging studies. However, when imaging studies are mandated and available, the pertinent history and the findings from the physical examination should be integrated with those studies for the purpose of reaching an accurate diagnosis that allows effective treatment, whether nonoperative or surgical. In addition, subjective information from the patient (such as the occurrence of night pain or pain only with motion) and information gained from objective measures during the physical examination facilitate both the pretreatment assessment and the outcome evaluation.