Did you read about the Bakodys Sign position in the my trapped nerve in your neck article and wondered what I was talking about. The best thing about this orthopaedic test is that it is not only a diagnostic tool, but can be used as a treatment tool as well.
Are you suffering an electric pain maybe running into your shoulder or down the arm into the elbow or wrist? Did you know this simple arm movement could help you get some instant pain relief? In the following post I will explain more about this easy nerve tension test. How to do the test, why do the test and why I recommend it as a treatment tool for a nerve pain in the arm.
Table of Contents
Fantastic Diagnostic and Treatment Tool
This medical test is more specifically a cervical orthopaedic test which is also known as Shoulder Abduction Test.
It is used in the physical examination done by chiropractors and doctors when examining a patients neck for a possible nerve compression usually from a herniated disc in the neck. It used for both acute and chronic neck pain diagnosis.
How To Perform the Test?
Here is a video explaining the step by step process for you.
So you can see in order to get it right all you need to do is:
- Lift the painful arm,
- Place the hand on top of your head.
It is as simple as that!
My extra tips for pain relief:
- Try turning your head away from the pain side a little,
- Try having your neck bent forward a little,
- Try laying on your back with a pillow under your head a rolled up towel under your neck for support,
How Does This Trapped Nerve Test Work?
A positive Bakody’s Sign is when the patient feels better placing their the hand of the painful arm on top of their head.
What happens is the tension on the nerves, like the brachial plexus, is made less when not hanging by your side. It really is such a simple neck pain test which is used to screen for a cervical radiculopathy condition.
Don’t know what is a radiculopathy? Well it is a medical term for trapped or pinched nerve.
I use this cervical spine test when I suspect a patient has a cervical disc herniation causing say a C4, C5, C6 or C7 radiculopathy. It might also be useful when assessing sports injuries on the side of the field like a stinger injury in rugby.
I read that the sensitivity and specificity values are 30%-42% and 90-100% respectively. What this means the test is poor in saying for sure that yes you do have cervical disc herniation with a nerve entrapment (low sensitivity), but it is high in ruling one in.
That is why there are other useful orthopaedic tests for the neck I like are:
- Spurling’s Test,
- Doorbells Sign,
- Cervical Compression Test,
- O’ Donoghue’s Test.
I tried finding the history of who invented this nerve tension test but couldn’t find out who Mr Bakody was. If you know please let me know in a comment below.
The Bottom Line
Again the idea is to take the pressure off the spinal nerve coming out your neck. Think of the nerve like it is a rope. You need to take the slack (tension) out of the rope to let it rest. To do this you would need to lift the rope up and rest it on your head.
It is so easy to try if you think you do have a pinched nerve in your neck causing pain down your arm or into your elbow. I hope you enjoyed this article today.
- Davidson RI, Dunn EJ, Metzmaker JN. The shoulder abduction test in the diagnosis of radicular pain in cervical extradural compressive monoradiculopathies. Spine. 1981 Sep-Oct;6(5):441-6.
- Viikari-Juntura E1, Porras M, Laasonen EM. Validity of clinical tests in the diagnosis of root compression in cervical disc disease. Spine. 1989 Mar;14(3):253-7.
- Fast A1, Parikh S, Marin EL. The shoulder abduction relief sign in cervical radiculopathy. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1989 May;70(5):402-3.
- Rubinstein SM1, Pool JJ, van Tulder MW, Riphagen II, de Vet HC. A systematic review of the diagnostic accuracy of provocative tests of the neck for diagnosing cervical radiculopathy. Eur Spine J. 2007 Mar;16(3):307-19. Epub 2006 Sep 30.