Review of Functional Tests for Neck Pain

We have talked a great view deal about functional abilities and functional findings for neck and back pain. In our office what we really care about is what you can do well and what can’t you do. What can we do tomeet your future goals and expectations? What are things we canimprove upon to make your life better? With neck pain there arevariety of causes, symptoms, and limitations. By working in treating the weakest link we produce results. One of the more difficult things to evaluate is your functional abilities. Most of the orthopedic testing is designed to evaluate muscles, tendons, joints, and disc pain statically. The functional movement tests are not as well documented or described.

This research study looked to evaluate and correlate for these tests of functional movements. Designing and developing great functional tests will then help us provide better treatment in the future. When information continues to develop on the tests and their correlationclinically we should see more of them being utilized in an office setting for patient care.

From a functional perspective this is a fantastic set of tests being developed. We are always trying to correlate clinical goals to your functional abilities outside the office. If your neck pain occurs after four hoursof computer work, then you want your goals to improve that functional ability to eight hours for your work, and we need to set matching clinical goals. Our treatment is about improving your functional ability. These upcoming tests will help give us betterideas and suggestions on how to reach your clinical goals of sitting for eight hours before developing neck stiffness or soreness.

In the end is all about function. As a patient you do not care that you youdo not have pain with right maximal cervical compression or shoulder depression test. You care that yourneck doesn’t hurt when you ride in a car for two hours. You care about what you can and can not do at home. I believe health care is making a slow transition to looking at the functional abilities of the patient and how this affects day-to-day activities without completely avoiding every activity.

More neck pain information can be found at Massage therapy and physical therapy and Neck Pain Exercises and Treatment.

More information on therapeutic treatments utilizing Physical Therapy or Chiropractic can be directed to Google+.

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

Volume 31, Issue 7 , Pages 540-546, September 2008

Cervical Outcome Measures: Testing for Postural Stability and Balance

B. Kim Humphreys, DC, PhD



Clinical tests assessing a correlation between structural pathology and cervical pain have been unsuccessful, leading the way for the development of functionally based tests. The purpose of this narrative is to review 4 promising functional tests for the assessment of sensorimotor dysfunction in patients with neck pain. The Joint Position Error/Head Repositioning Accuracy tests, and the Rod and Frame Test were reviewed.

Special Features

The SPNTT was developed to test proprioceptive mechanisms in the neck by applying torsion to mainly mechanoreceptors in the cervical spine. The Joint Position Error and Head Repositioning Accuracy test cervicocephalickinesthesia or the ability to perceive both movement and position of the head inspace related to the trunk. The Rod and Frame Test assesses patients' perception of the vertical orientation of their head in 3-dimensional space. All of these tests evaluate important mechanisms responsible for maintaining postural stability and balance and are thought to be applicable for use in mechanical neck painpatients.


All of the reviewed tests show clinical promise because they are able to distinguish patientswith neck pain, particularly those with whiplash trauma and dizziness from asymptomatic controls. All of the tests assess cervical sensorimotor dysfunction, although considerably more research is needed to more clearly establish the psychometric properties for each test including minimal clinical important difference.Although these tests can be used in routine clinical practice, they should be used in combination with other related tests.


© 2008 National University of Health Sciences. Published byElsevier Inc. All rights reserved.