Athletic Training & Sports Medicine Center


Examination Links:

  • Alphabetical Listing
    of Examinations
  • Head
  • Cervical Spine
  • Thoracic Spine
    • Sagittal Plane ROM Test
    • Frontal Plane ROM Test
    • Transverse Plane ROM Test
  • Lumbar Spine
    • Straight Leg Raise Test
    • Sciatic Nerve Palpation Test
    • Bowstring Test
    • Slump Test
  • Shoulder
    • Apley Scratch Test
    • Relocation Test
    • Anterior Instability Test
    • Anterior/Posterior Translation
    • Sulcus Sign
    • Posterior G-H Instability Test
    • Inferior Drawer (Feagin) Test
    • Neer Impingement Test
    • Hawkins Kennedy
      Impingement Test
    • Empty Can Test
    • Internal Rotation Strength
    • External Rotation Strength
    • Glenoid Labrum Clunk Test
    • Andrews Anterior Instability
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    • Prone Posterior Instability 
    • Push Pull Test
    • Apprehension Test
    • Fulcrum test
    • Jerk Sign or Jahnke Test
    • Load & Shift Test
    • Acromioclavicular Joint
      Stability Test
    • Cross Chest 
      (Horizontal Adduction) Test
    • Sternoclavicular Joint 
      Integrity Test
    • Speed's Test
    • Gilcrest's Palm-Up test
    • Drop Sign
    • External Rotation Lag Sign
    • Internal Rotation Lag Sign
    • Gerber Lift-Off Test
    • O'Brien Test
    • Yergason Test
    • Biceps Load Test I
    • Biceps Load Test II
    • Winging Scapula Test
    • Adson Maneuver
    • Allen Test
    • Roo's Test
    • Halstead's Test
  • Elbow & Radioulnar
    • Valgus Test 00
    • Valgus Test 300
    • Valgus Test 900
    • Milking Sign
    • Cross Arm Valgus
       Stress Test
    • Varus Test 00
    • Varus Test 300
    • Lateral Compression Test
    • Valgus Extension Overload
    • Cozen Test
    • Mills Test
    • Distal Radioulnar Instability 
  • Wrist
    • Anatomical Snuff Box
      Compression Test
    • Phalen's Test or Wrist Press 
    • Tinel Sign
  • Hand & Fingers
    • Murphy's Sign
    • Boutonniere Deformity Test
    • Mallet Finger Test
    • Flexor Digitorum Superficialis
    • Flexor Digitorum Profundus
    • Gamekeeper's Thumb Test
    • MCP Radial Collateral 
      Ligament Stress Test
    • MCP Ulnar Collateral 
      Ligament Stress Test
    • PIP Radial Collateral 
      Ligament Stress Test
    • PIP Ulnar Collateral 
      Ligament Stress Test
    • DIP Radial Collateral 
      Ligament Stress Test
    • DIP Ulnar Collateral 
      Ligament Stress Test
    • Bunnel-Littler Test
    • Retinacular Test
    • Allen Test
  • Sacroiliac Joint
    • Ipsilateral Prone Kinetic Test
    • FABER Test
    • Passive Extension & Internal 
      Rotation of Ilium on Sacrum
    • Passive Flexion & External 
      Rotation of Ilium on Sacrum
    • Passive External Rotation 
      of Hip
    • Pelvic Rocking Test
    • Gapping Test
    • Prone Gapping (Hibb's) Test
    • Approximation Test
    • Squish Test
      Sacroiliac Rocking Test
    • Sacral Apex Pressure Test
    • Torsion Stress Test
    • Femoral Shear Test
    • Superoinferior Symphysis
      Pubic Stress Test
    • Piedallu's Sign
    • Flamingo Maneuver or Test
    • Gaenslen's Sign
    • Mazion's Pelvic Maneuver
    • Yeoman's Test
    • Sit-up Test
  • Hip & Thigh
    • Scouring (Quandrant) Test
    • FABER Test
    • Trendelenburg Test
    • Craig's Test
    • Torque Test
    • Stinchfield Test
    • Thomas Test
    • Ober Test
    • Pirifomis Test
    • Sign of the Buttock
    • Ely's Test
    • Hamstring Contracture Test 1
    • Tripod Test
    • 90-90 Straight Leg Test
    • Phelp's Test
  • Knee
    • Gravity Sign
    • Active Posterior/Anterior 
      Drawer Test
    • Posterolateral Drawer Test
    • Lachman
      • Tradiional
      • Thigh Assisted
      • Drop Leg
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      • Table End
      • Prone
      • Active
    • Posterolateral Drawer Test
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    • McMurray's Test
    • Apley's Grind Test
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    • Medial Compression Test
    • Jerk Test of Hughston
    • Pivot Shift Test
    • External Rotation 
      Recurvatum Test
  • Lower Leg
  • Ankle
  • Foot
    • Morton Test
  • Range of Motion
  • Goniometry
  • Manual Muscle Testing
  • Reflexes
  • Vital Signs
  • Body Composition


Spurling's Test

Examination type Neurological
Patient & Body Segment Positioning The patient can be short sitting on an examination table, lying supine on an examination table, or seated in a chair.
Examiner Position If the patient is short sitting on an examination table, the examiner should kneel on the table 8 to 10 inches behind the patient. If the patient is seated in a chair, the examiner should be standing beside or behind with the arms slightly flexed and both hands resting on top of the patient’s head. The elbows should be roughly eye level to the patient. If the patient is supine, then the examiner should be seated with the patient’s head 6 to 8 inches in front of the examiner’s chest. The examiner should support the head and neck completely with one hand and the other should be placed on top of the head.
Performing the Test Begin by performing the basic cervical compression test for the neck. First tell the athlete that you are going to be placing increasing pressure on their head, and ask them to inform you when it begins to hurt and what type of pain and sensations are felt. The patient should be looking directly ahead with the head in neutral (no flexion, extension, or rotation). If pain results or a numb, tingling, or other noticeable sensation radiates down the arm, stop the test immediately as this is a positive sign for nerve root compression. If no pain is felt with the basic cervical compression test then the examiner can progress to the Spurling’s Compression Test. First place the neck into extension and compress the head downward along the long axis.  Next, rotate the head to either side while still extended and apply compression. Finally, place the head in extension, rotation, and lateral flexion then press downward again. After placing the neck into the each position, place the hands on top of the head again and begin to compress straight down, with slightly increasing pressure.
Tissues Being Tested cervical nerve roots
Positive Test Pain felt in the arm on the same side that the head is flexed during compression. As soon as pain is felt the test should be stopped; the test should not be continued long enough to “rate” the pain.  Severity of the compression of the nerve root is best measured by location of the pain.  For example, is it just pain in the neck, or pain in the neck and shoulder, or pain in the neck, shoulder, and arm with radiating abnormal sensation.
Interpretation A positive test indicates that one or more of the nerve roots coming from the cervical spine is being compressed by a fractured or displaced vertebrae, swelling, scar tissue, prolapsed or herniated vertebral disk, or by severe muscle spasm. Spurling’s tests for nerve root involvement in a cervical spine injury.
Common errors in performing exam Remember: Passive tests are more dangerous than active tests when used on the spine due to a risk of an unstable vertebral column. Use extreme caution when performing this test. Pay close attention to what you are doing and keep the athlete’s safety in mind. Do not be afraid to cause a little discomfort of the athlete to find out what is ultimately causing their pain, but never cause further harm.
Factors possibly resulting in misinterpretation Muscle or ligamentous injuries to the same area can cause misinterpretation. The Reverse Spurling’s test will aid in the correction of this common mistake.  An increase in pain with this test indicates the injury may be a muscle injury caused by stretching the injured muscle. A decrease or alleviation of the pain with this test indicates a releasing of the pressure on a compressed nerve root.
Related tests Reverse Spurling’s Test (Cervical Distraction test)

 Booher & Thibodeau. Athletic Injury Assesment. Fourth Ed. MeGraw Hill Higher Ed. McGraw Hill Companies, INC. New York, NY 10020. Copyright 2000.


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