The reliability of the cervical relocation test on people with and without a history of neck pain

Physical therapy intervention is often sought to treat cervical spine conditions and a comprehensive physical therapy examination has been associated with more favourable outcomes. The cervical relocation test (CRT) is one method used to assess joint position sense (PS) integrity of the cervical spine. Previous research has found significant differences in the CRT between symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects. Impaired kinaesthetic awareness in the cervical spine may be associated with degenerative joint disease, chronicity of the complaint and increased susceptibility to re-injury. The purpose of this study was to determine the intertester and intratester reliability of cervical relocation using the cervical range of motion instrument (CROM) and an affixed laser (AL) device among subjects with and without a history of neck pain. In addition, it was hypothesised that those individuals with a history of neck pain would have greater difficulty on the CRT. A total of 50 asymptomatic subjects (n = 50) were assigned to two researchers. The CRT was performed for each tester by the subject rotating the cervical spine for three trials to the right and left for the CROM and AL. The results indicate a significant intertester reliability of the CROM (interclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.717[0.502–0.839]; 0.773[0.595–0.873]) for the subjects in this sample.

This study demonstrated that the CROM is a reliable device for measuring cervical relocation between different testers. Future research should investigate if the CRT is predictive of prognosis in patients with cervical pathology.