Cervical distraction test is useful in accessing facet joint integrity as well as nerve root compression (radiculopathy) in the cervical spine.


  1. Patient seated
  2. Examiner gently elevates patient’s head axially.

Examiner gently elevates patient’s head axially.


A positive test is the reduction or elimination of symptoms with traction.

Positive Cervical Distraction Test

  1. Positive Decreased peripheral pain: Decreased pressure on nerve roots (IVF encroachment, radiculopathy).
  2. Positive Decreased local pain: Facet impingement.
  3. Positive Increased local pain: Muscle or ligament strain.

Clinical Notes

If patient experiences a reduction in pain with cervical distraction, this test may indicate an appropriate treatment method for their condition (consider using cervical distraction techniques in your treatment protocol).