Validity of the posterior-anterior middle cervical spine gliding test for the examination of intervertebral joint hypomobility in mechanical neck pain

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010 May;33(4):279-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.03.005.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if the posterior-anterior cervical gliding test is a valid test as compared with dynamic radiographic assessment in flexion/extension as tool for the manual diagnosis of intervertebral joint hypomobility in the midcervical spine in patients with mechanical neck pain.

Methods: The study was done according to Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy guidelines. Fifty patients with mechanical neck pain participated. An examiner performed a posterior-anterior cervical spine gliding to determine the presence of joint hypomobility over the C3-C4, C4-C5, and C5-C6 levels. Two dynamic radiographs in flexion/extension of the neck were obtained from each patient. The angle resulting from the intersection of 2 lines traced between 2 consecutive vertebrae was considered the degree of intersegmental motion of flexion-extension between those vertebrae. Intersegmental motion showing radiographic data below mean - SD from normative data was considered to reflect hypomobility. Differences between hypomobile and not hypomobile segments were assessed with the 2-tailed unpaired Student t test. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were also obtained.

Results: At all cervical segments, those patients diagnosed with hypomobility showed significantly (P < .001) lower radiographic motion (C3-C4: 12.4 degrees +/- 2.7 degrees, C4-C5: 14.5 degrees +/- 2.6 degrees, C5-C6: 15.0 degrees +/- 4.8 degrees) compared with those patients not diagnosed with hypomobility (C3-C4: 17.6 degrees +/- 3.8 degrees, C4-C5: 19.4 degrees +/- 3.4 degrees, C5-C6: 21.0 degrees +/- 3.8 degrees). The C3-C4 and C4-C5 levels had high sensitivity (>80%) and specificity (>70%), whereas C5-C6 showed high sensitivity (100%) but low specificity (41%).

Conclusions: The posterior-anterior cervical gliding test was as good as dynamic radiographic assessment for the diagnosis of intervertebral hypomobility in the midcervical spine in this group of subjects.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Joint Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Neck Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology*
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design