Jackson Compression Test

What is the Jackson Compression Test?

Jackson compression test is used to detect cervical Radiculopathy (cervical nerve root compression).

What is Cervical Radiculopathy (Cervical Nerve Root Compression)?

Cervical Radiculopathy is a condition commonly referred to as “pinched nerve.” It occurs when the spinal nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated when it branches off from the spinal cord. 

There are seven vertebrae and eight pairs of cervical nerves in the neck region. These cervical nerves are named C1 to C8. They originate from both sides of the spinal cord (branches off from the spinal cord) through the intervertebral foramina, which is the opening or space between the two adjacent vertebrae. 

intervertebral-foramina

The point of origin of the spinal nerve from the spinal cord is known as the root of the nerve. The cervical nerves are named in order of the cervical vertebrae just below them. For example, the C6 nerve root runs above the pedicel of the C6 vertebrae, C7 nerve root runs above the pedicle of the C7 vertebrae. As there is no C8 vertebrae, but there is a C8 nerve, so the C8 nerve runs above the pedicle of T1 vertebrae, and the T1 nerve root runs below the T1 pedicle.

cervical-C1-to-C7-nerve-root

C8 to T1 nerve root

These cervical nerves then supply the muscles and joints of shoulders, arms, wrist, etc., and provide them nervous stimulation for various actions.

Sometimes due to any disorder or pathology, the cervical nerve root may get compressed, or what is otherwise known as pinching of the nerve root. This pinching or compression of the cervical nerve root is known as cervical Radiculopathy.

To read more about the causes, signs, and symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy, click here.

How to Perform The Jackson Compression Test?

After reading many clinical test books and reading many articles on the internet, and watching many videos of the Jackson compression test, we found out that there are generally two methods of performing the Jackson compression test. Some are describing method 1, while some are describing method 2. So let me explain to you both the methods.

Method 1 (Rotation Method)

Patient Position – Ask your patient to sit comfortably in the sitting position.

Examiner Position – Behind the Patient.

Procedure 

  • The examiner will ask the patient to rotate his head towards the affected side. Or the examiner will rotate the patient’s head towards the affected side, as shown in the video below.
  • After the head is rotated towards the affected side, the examiner will carefully apply the axial compression force in the downward direction (vertically downward) through the head.
  • Repeat the test on the unaffected side. In other words, you’ll have to perform the test on both sides.

jackson-compression-test

 

Result of Method 1

Now the examiner will look for any radiating pain down the arm. The Jackson compression test is considered positive if the patient complains of any radiating pain down the arm.

Method 2 (Lateral Bending

Patient Position – Ask your patient to sit comfortably in the sitting position.

Examiner Position – Behind the Patient.

  • The examiner stands behind the patient with their hand on the top of the patient’s head.
  • After that, the examiner passively tilts (laterally flex/bend) the head to both sides. First, the examiner will tilt the head towards the affected side. Let us suppose the affected side is the right side, so the examiner will tilt (laterally flex/bend) the head towards the right side. Then the examiner will tilt (laterally flex/bend) the head towards the non-affected side (left side).
  • In maximum lateral bending, the examiner presses down on the head to apply axial pressure on the cervical spine, as shown in the video below.

jackson-compression-test (lateral bending method)

Result of Method 2

Now the examiner will look for any radiating pain down the arm. The Jackson compression test is considered positive if the patient complains of any radiating pain down the arm.

Role of Axial Compression

The axial loading results in increased compression of the facet joints, exiting nerve root, and intervertebral disks. The pressure on the intervertebral foramina acts on the facet joint to trigger distal pain that doesn’t follow identifiable segmental dermatomes. In other words, the pressure on the intervertebral foramina will act on the facet joint, this will trigger the distal pain, but you’ll not get to know which segment of the spine is affected.

The presence of nerve root irritation (cervical radiculopathy) will result in radicular pain symptoms. The term “radicular symptoms” refers to the symptoms like pain, or numbness, or tingling, or muscle weakness that originates from the compressed nerve root in the spine. The radicular pain symptoms travel along the spinal nerve root that is being compressed.

You May Also Read – 

Nerve Root Disorder Test

Thomsen Sign – Indicates or signals sciatic nerve root irritation.

Duchenne Sign – Assess a nerve root disorder.

Some Other Test

Cervical Flexion Compression Test – To identify if there is a herniated disk in the cervical spine (Cervical Radiculopathy or Cervical Disc Herniation)

Spurling Test – For Diagnosing Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical Distraction Test – To detect the presence of cervical radiculopathy.

O’Donoghue Test – Helps in differentiating between muscular pain (strain) and ligamentous pain (articular problem) in the cervical spine.

Soto Hall Test – For Detecting Problem in Patient’s Neck (Cervical Spine)

Maximum Compression of the Intervertebral Foramina Test of Cervical Spine – For Detecting Facet Joint Dysfunction in the Cervical Spine

Resources

Clinical Tests for the Musculoskeletal System: Examinations-Signs-Phenomena by K. Buckup

Leave a Comment