What are most common maneuvers to test for cervical radiculopathy in cervical disc disease?

Updated: Apr 16, 2020
  • Author: Michael B Furman, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Dean H Hommer, MD  more...
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Answer

The patient with radicular pain also displays decreased cervical range of motion (ROM). The 3 most common maneuvers to test for cervical radiculopathy are the Spurling maneuver, shoulder abduction (relief) sign, and neck distraction test.

  • Spurling maneuver: The patient's neck is extended, laterally bent, and held down and performed in the seated position. It is designed to elicit radicular symptoms. A positive test finding is reproduction of radicular symptoms distal to the neck. A positive test finding has shown a sensitivity of 40-60% and specificity of 92-100%. [25]

  • Shoulder abduction sign: Active abduction of symptomatic arm, placing the patient’s hand on head, is performed in the seated position. Positive test finding is relief or reduction of ipsilateral cervical radicular symptoms. Sensitivity is 43-50%, and specificity is 80-100%. [25]

  • Neck distraction test: The examiner grasps the patient’s head under occiput and chin and applies an axial traction force. It is performed in the supine position with an approximate traction force of 10-15 Kg. Positive test finding is relief or reduction of cervical radicular symptoms. Sensitivity is 40-43%, and specificity is 100%. [25]


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