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What it measures:

What It Measures and Conditions and Test Variations Included in This Summary:

The Spurling test is used to detect cervical radiculopathy. There is no standard protocol for administering the Spurling test and there are multiple variations that include different motions and sequences of motions. According to one source, Spurling originally described the test as lateral bending and axial compression. (1) Reproduction of radicular pain and symptoms is measured. Six variations of the test are described in the literature:

  • Lateral bending and axial compression (1,2)
  • Lateral bending, rotation, compression (1)
  • Extension and compression (1)
  • Extension and lateral bending (1)
  • Extension, lateral bending, and compression (1)
  • Extension, rotation, and compression (1)

Another variation described in the literature involved side bending and rotation toward the symptomatic side coupled with extension, then axial compression applied. (2,3) The test is most commonly defined in current literature as passive cervical extension, ipsilateral rotation, and axial compression. (4)

This summary contains information on use of the Spurling test in patients or clients with cervical radiculopathy and other upper extremity nerve pathologies.

ICF Domain(s):                                                                     

  • Body structure and function

ICF Categories:

  • Changing & Maintaining Body Position
  • Other PT/OT Subsequent Limitation

Access Test:

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