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Bruce Fellows
Mathew Dimond


Spurling Test, Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Testing


Objective: This review identifies potential variations of a common and valid orthopedic test, known as Spurling test, by cross-referencing textbooks used within health science curriculums.

Methods: Information was gathered by conducting an onsite university library search, including the relevant texts included within the standard institutional reference for National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), The National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). This yielded 11 orthopedic textbooks, that included descriptions of the Spurling test and interpretations of the findings. Data was reported in the form of descriptive statistics.

Results: Of eleven texts, 81% included side-bending as part of Spurling test, while 54% included extension and 45% included rotation. Only 18% recommend the use of flexion, axial blow, or a neutral starting position. As a stand-alone plane of motion, side bending is most commonly reported, while the most common combination of movements include a combination of side-bending, rotation, and extension.

Conclusion: The results of this study reveal inconsistencies in the description of Spurling test among the recommended reference text list provided by the NBCE. Editors and authors alike should take special care to reduce inconsistencies and minimize variability of testing procedures, in order to facilitate consistent application and to best represent the current literature.


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