Now, before determining how to treat your pain, you must first determine beyond a reasonable doubt that you do in fact have cervical radiculopathy! Lucky for you, there are a battery of tests you can do now at home to help you recognize the signs and symptoms of cervical radiculopathy. A physical therapist will use what's called the Wainner cluster to objectively determine if there's a high probably you have cervical radiculopathy. Of course, we advise that you seek out a qualified physical therapist in your local area to screen and treat you symptoms, but if you can't get in to see a PT, follow along in the video below and I'll walk you through a modified version of the Wainner cluster you can perform at home!
**IMPORTANT - PLEASE BE GENTLE WHEN ADMINSTERING THESE TESTS. Is your pain severe ie greater than 7/10? Does it take a long time to go away if it's bad? If so, please be extremely gentle with this screen!
1. Spurling's Test. This test aims to close down the intervertebral foramen in your cervical spine, adding further compression to the nerve root. Tilt you head back and sideways towards the side of your pain. Example is right side.. Does this neck position recreate your neck/arm symptoms? If yes, the test is positive and move on to the next one. If no, SLOWLY apply pressure with your opposite, left hand. If this test brings on your symptoms, it's also considered a positive test.
2. Distraction Test. This test aims to open up the intervertebral foramen in your cervical spine, decompression the nerve root. This test can only be performed if you are currently experiencing your symptoms. What you will do is LIFT you head up and apply a traction force. If this maneuver alleviates or lessens your symptoms, it's considered a positive test.
3. Upper Limb Nerve Tension Test. This test aims to add a traction force to the nerve root - which nerve do not typically like! Keeping your shoulder down, stick your arm out. Next, extend or bend backwards your wrist. Next, slowly bring your arm out to the side. BE GENTLE AND MOVE SLOW!! If at any point in this movement, your symptoms are worsened or recreated, it’s a positive test.
4. Cervical Rotation Test. Rotate your head in the direction to the side of your symptoms. If you cannot rotate your head 60 degrees, which is approximately your earlobe to your shoulder, it is considered a positive test.
Now, this battery of self-administered test are the exact same ones used in the Weinner cluster, but they are decently good enough to help you determine if you may have cervical radiculopathy. For the actual Weinner cluster, if 2 of the 4 tests are positive, there is a 21% chance of cervical radiculopathy. If 3 of the 4 tests are positive, the number jumps to 65%! If 4 of the 4 tests are positive, it's essentially a golden ticket and the probability jumps to 90%!