Spurling’s test–inconsistencies in clinical practice

Hayden Jinright, Natalie Kassoff, Clay Williams, Charles Hazle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the methodology, interpretation, and perceived value of Spurling’s test toward diagnosis/classification and treatment. Methods: An anonymous web-based survey was made available to physical therapist members of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association. Based on video demonstrations of technique and symptom distribution, questions included preferred method, criteria for test interpretation, and perceived value of Spurling’s test and other examination findings toward clinical decision-making. Professional profile data were also collected. Results: Among the 452 participants completing the survey, no method of testing was preferred by more than 37%, with ipsilateral lateral flexion, rotation, and extension with compression being most frequently preferred followed by ipsilateral lateral flexion with compression at 32%. Proximal provocation of symptoms only without distal symptoms was interpreted as a positive test by 67%. Participants rated Spurling’s test of moderate to low value toward diagnosis/classification and treatment. Discussion: Inconsistency with methodology and interpretation of Spurling’s test is suggested to be pervasive in physical therapist practice. While an optimal test methodology has yet to be identified, result interpretation does have a basis for clarification toward diagnosis/classification and reduction of unwanted variance in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Spurling’s test
  • cervical radiculopathy
  • clinical examination
  • diagnosis/classification
  • radiating pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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