The Sensitive Nervous System Chapter XII: Upper Limb Neurodynamic Tests

This is a summary of Chapter XII of “The Sensitive Nervous System” by David Butler.


Today we will take a look at assessing upper limb neurodynamic tests (ULNT). These assessments used to be called tension tests, but that terminology is now a defunct mechanical description. We now describe these as neurodynamic tests to better appreciate the neurophysiologic aspects of mechanosensitivity and upper limb homunculi stability.

Neural tension is so passé
Neural tension is so passé

These tests are numbered based on the movement sensitizer, which are as follows:

1 – Shoulder abduction.

2 – Shoulder depression.

3 – Elbow flexion.

ULNT1: Median Nerve

Here is the quick test first.

Here is how to do the manual test.

A quick heads up regarding head motions.

  • Sidebending away increases symptoms in 90% of people.
  • Sidebending toward decreases symptoms in 70% of people.

ULNT2: Median Nerve

Here is the manual test

ULNT2: Radial Nerve

Here is the active test.

And the manual test.

ULNT3: Ulnar Nerve

Here is the active test

And the manual test.

Musculocutaneous Nerve

Here is the active test

And the passive test.

Axillary Nerve

Here is the passive test.

Suprascapular Nerve

Here is the test.

Final Words

Have some fun with these tests, and be mindful that you are not too aggressive.

Thanks to Scott and Sarah for your videotaping help. You guys rock.