Maximal Cervical Compression test is a cervical spine examination procedure that is often used in the musculoskeletal assessment of the cervical spine in detecting nerve root compression that leads to cervical radiculopathy. It is also called Spurling’s Test.


Patient should be awake and cooperative in a Maximal Cervical Compression test .

  1. Patient should be seated during the procedure.
  2. The patient’s head is rotated, laterally flexed and extended slightly. The examiner helps the patient assume the position.
  3. The examiner applies gentle downward pressuve from the top of the head.
  4. The examiner watches out for localized and peripheral pain.

Examiner applies a gentle downward pressure over the head.


Positive Maximal Cervical Compression Test

There is positive Maximal Cervical Compression when there is

  • Increased local pain; this could indicate possible joint damage, meniscoid entrapment or muscle pain.
  • Increased peripheral pain; this could indicate increased pressure over on the nerve roots (IVF encroachment, radiculopathy).

Clinical Notes

The Maximal Cervical Compression test may also compress the vertebral artery and cause VBI-type symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and nystagmus.