O’Donoghue Maneuver is a cervical spine examination procedure that tests for cervical sprain. The test is done in two parts: one during resisted motion while another is during passive motion. Pain during resisted motion could be due to muscle strain while passive motion could be ligament sprain.


Patient should be awake and cooperative during O’Donoghue’s Maneuver.

  1. Patient should be seated as the test is done.
  2. The examiner is at the patient’s back where he moves the cervical spine. First he uses bilateral resisted motion then through passive bilateral rotation.
  3. The examiner takes note of any pain when the head is moved passively and resistively.

Examiner moves the spine using bilateral resisted motion and then through passive bilateral rotation.


Positive O’Donoghue’s Maneuver

There is positive O’Donoghue’s Maneuver when there is pain during the procedure.

  • Pain during resisted motion could indicate muscle strain.
  • Pain during passive motion could indicate ligament sprain.

Clinical Notes

Resisted rotation may be used as an isometric contraction wherein the examiner holds the patient’s head still as the patient attempts to move from side to side.