Ulnar nerve neurodynamic test: study of the normal sensory response in asymptomatic individuals

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014 Jun;44(6):450-6. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2014.5207. Epub 2014 May 10.


Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Objectives: To describe and analyze normal sensory responses to the ulnar upper-limb neurodynamic test (ULNT3) and to investigate the influence of sex and arm dominance.

Background: Neurodynamic tests are commonly used in the clinical evaluation of patients with musculoskeletal pain disorders. While the normal responses of other upper-limb neurodynamic tests have been previously investigated, there are no studies that have reported the normal responses for the ULNT3.

Methods: A total of 68 asymptomatic individuals between 18 and 50 years of age volunteered to participate in the study. Of these, 57 (29 women, 28 men) were eligible for the study. The variables measured were pain intensity using a numeric rating scale, shoulder abduction angle, and quality and distribution of symptoms at the point of pain tolerance of the ULNT3.

Results: There were statistically significant differences in pain intensity and shoulder abduction angle between the sexes, with women having higher perceived pain and lower shoulder angle than men (P<.05). There was a significant difference of 6.6° (95% confidence interval: 1.1°, 12.1°) in shoulder abduction angle during the ULNT3 (P<.05) between the dominant arm and nondominant arm. The symptoms most often described during application of the ULNT3 were stretching (90%), followed by pain, and the most frequent location of symptoms was the anteromedial half of the forearm.

Conclusion: The results of this study provide the normal shoulder abduction angle and quality and distribution of symptoms for the ULNT3. These data can be used by clinicians as a reference when using the ULNT3 in their clinical reasoning and decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthrometry, Articular
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forearm / innervation
  • Forearm / physiology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Shoulder / innervation
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Ulnar Nerve / physiology*
  • Upper Extremity / innervation*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology*
  • Young Adult