Cervical Distraction test

Purpose: 

Test for the presence of nerve root pathology, injury to cervical weight bearing structures or ligaments.

Test procedure:

• The patient is seated.
• The examiner stands behind patient.
• The examiner cradles the patients head at the occiput and mandible. A careful, progressive traction of the patient’s cervical spine is performed.
• Observe for relief of pain or radicular symptoms.

Test findings:

Positive if pain or radicular symptoms subside. Caused by decreasing pressure on nerve roots. Local pain may also decrease if there is facet impingement.

Negative if symptoms do not change or worsen. If increased local pain consider: muscle or ligament strain.

Positive test may indicate cervical nerve root compression, irritation or injury to weight bearing structures.