PainSci notes on Swinkels 1996:
This 1996 paper found that “there is no correlation between the measure of hypermobility and the presence of clinical symptoms. Also, the validity of the upper-cervical stability tests is questionable.”
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this review is to examine the internal validity of the standardized clinical stability tests for the upper cervical spine in relation to symptomatology. Whether radiology can confirm the clinical diagnosis is also examined. The importance of radiology in this situation, the pathogenesis and the prevalence of atlanto-axial hypermobility and the clinical symptomatology are discussed.
DATA SOURCES: A literature search from January 1984 to March 1995. We consulted the CD-ROM Medline with the keywords "atlanto-axial instability," "atlanto-axial dislocation," "hypermobility," "cervical spine" and "atlanto-axial joint." Ninety-six Dutch, French, German, and English publications were selected. The Documentation Centre of the Institute for Research and Postgraduate Education Physiotherapy (SWSF) was consulted with the keywords: atlanto-axial joint, upper cervical spine, segmental examination, interobserver-reliability, intraobserver-reliability, interobserver variation, intraobserver variation, manual therapy, examination, diagnostics. Finally, recent developments and views published during this study were added.
RESULTS: There seems to be no correlation between the amount of hypermobility or subluxation and the presence of clinical signs or neurological signs. The clinical signs can vary from relatively diffuse complaints, no symptoms and signs to serious ones. Radiology does not seem to be a reliable diagnostic mechanism in relation to upper-cervical instability. Conventional X-rays fail to give adequate information about atlanto-axial stability. CT-scan and MRI can visualize much more because of the direct sagittal projection but neither is an absolute standard. Furthermore, in relation to upper-cervical hypermobility, the validity of radiology is under debate.
CONCLUSION: There is no correlation between the measure of hypermobility and the presence of clinical symptoms. Also, the validity of the upper-cervical stability tests is questionable. In diagnostics, every radiological examination measures anatomical and morphological variables, not functional variables. Despite this, CT and MRI should be preferred in diagnostics over conventional functional radiology.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Gerhart 2017 Ann Behav Med.
- Modulation in the elastic properties of gastrocnemius muscle heads in individuals with plantar fasciitis and its relationship with pain. Zhou 2020 Sci Rep.
- Association Between Plantar Fasciitis and Isolated Gastrocnemius Tightness. Nakale 2018 Foot Ankle Int.
- No Added Benefit of Combining Dry Needling With Guideline-Based Physical Therapy When Managing Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stieven 2020 J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.