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Spurling's Test: A Valuable Assessment for Remedial Massage Therapists

Introduction:

As a remedial massage therapist, your ability to accurately assess and address your clients' musculoskeletal conditions is crucial for providing effective treatments. One valuable assessment technique that can aid in your assessing process is Spurling's Test. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of Spurling's Test, its procedure, and its relevance in your practice. By understanding this assessment, you can enhance your ability to identify and address cervical spine issues in your clients more effectively.



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What is Spurling's Test?

Spurling's Test is a clinical examination technique used to evaluate the integrity of the cervical spine (neck) and assess for nerve root compression. It is named after Dr. Kenton Spurling, who developed this test to aid in assessing cervical radiculopathy, a condition characterised by nerve impingement or irritation in the neck.


Why is Spurling's Test Important?

Spurling's Test is an essential tool for remedial massage therapists for several reasons:

a) Accurate assessing: By performing Spurling's Test, you can assess the presence of nerve root compression or irritation, helping you identify the specific spinal segments involved and contributing to a more accurate assessment.

b) Treatment planning: The information gathered from Spurling's Test can guide your treatment planning process by providing insights into the areas requiring focused attention and suitable therapeutic interventions.

c) Client communication: Understanding Spurling's Test allows you to explain the rationale behind your assessing process to clients, building trust and improving their understanding of their condition.


Performing Spurling's Test:

Spurling's Test involves a series of steps to assess cervical spine integrity. Here's a general outline of the procedure:

a) Positioning: Seat the client comfortably with the head in a neutral position.

b) Side bending and rotation: Ask the client to actively tilt their head towards the unaffected side (side opposite to the pain or symptoms) and rotate it towards the same side.

c) Compression: Apply gentle downward pressure on the client's head, aiming to compress the cervical spine.

d) Observe and document: Note any pain, radiation, or sensory changes experienced by the client during the test and identify the affected spinal segments.


Interpreting the Results:

Interpreting the results of Spurling's Test requires clinical expertise. Positive findings, such as the reproduction of radicular pain, tingling, or numbness in a specific dermatomal pattern, suggest nerve root compression. Negative results may indicate alternative causes or the absence of nerve impingement. It is crucial to consider Spurling's Test as part of a comprehensive assessment, along with other relevant clinical information, to arrive at an accurate assessment.


Incorporating Spurling's Test into Your Practice:

To effectively incorporate Spurling's Test into your practice, consider the following:

a) Skill development: Seek additional training or mentorship to refine your technique and improve your proficiency in performing and interpreting Spurling's Test.

b) Documentation: Consistently document the findings of Spurling's Test in your client records, ensuring accurate communication with other healthcare professionals involved in the client's care.

c) Collaboration: Recognize the value of collaborating with other healthcare practitioners, such as physiotherapists or chiropractors, who may perform complementary assessments and treatments.


Conclusion:

Spurling's Test is a valuable assessment technique for remedial massage therapists that aids in assessing cervical spine conditions, particularly nerve root compression. By understanding the procedure, interpreting the results, and incorporating this test into your practice,



 

References

  • Chiradejnant A, Latimer J, Maher CG. The Spurling test for cervical radiculopathy: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006 May;29(4):307-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2006.03.010. PMID: 16690379.

  • Kwon JW, Lee JW, Kim JH, et al. Diagnostic Validity of Spurling Test for Cervical Radiculopathy. Ann Rehabil Med. 2012 Dec;36(6):784-90. doi: 10.5535/arm.2012.36.6.784. Epub 2012 Dec 26. PMID: 23342375; PMCID: PMC3547970.

  • Cleland JA, Whitman JM, Fritz JM, Palmer JA. Manual physical therapy, cervical traction, and strengthening exercises in patients with cervical radiculopathy: a case series. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005 Sep;35(9):552-60. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2005.35.9.552. PMID: 16294865.

  • Gross A, Miller J, D'Sylva J, et al. Manipulation or mobilisation for neck pain: a Cochrane Review. Man Ther. 2010 Oct;15(5):315-33. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2010.04.002. Epub 2010 Jun 14. PMID: 20547471.



Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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