Manual Therapy

Special Test of the Week…The Upper Limb Tension Test for Median Nerve

Peripheral nerves and their cervical roots may become irritated at several sites along their course through the neck and upper extremity.   This weeks special test is the upper limb tension test (aka brachial plexus tension test) biased for the median nerve.

The patient is supine.  The examiner then depresses the shoulder, abducts the humerus to 110 degrees, supinates the forearm, and extends the elbow,wrist and fingers.  The examiner then has the patient sidebend their cervical spine away from the side being tested.  Reproduction of the patients symptoms indicates a positive neural tension of the median nerve.


3 replies »

  1. Always a good, quick screen for anybody with vague arm symptoms….I do all 3 peripheral UE nerves, and compare to other side…especially for those with cervical involvement. Why not? I am sure most of us routinely check sciatic/femoral tension on our back patients!

  2. I think what’s key is asking the patient if the symptom reproduced is the same pain that has been bothering them. Otherwise you may get a false positive.

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