Petersen CM, Hayes KW

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2000 Sep;30(9):512-21

Construct validity of Cyriax's selective tension examination: association of end-feels with pain at the knee and shoulder.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive

OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between pain and normal and abnormal-pathologic end-feels during passive physiologic motion assessment at the knee and shoulder. We theorized that abnormal-pathologic end-feels would be more painful than normal end-feels.

BACKGROUND: End-feel testing and pain intensity information are part of physical therapy musculoskeletal patient examinations. End-feels are categorized as normal or abnormal-pathologic. No previous studies have examined the relationship between pain during end-feel testing and the type of end-feel.

METHODS AND MEASURES:Two physical therapists examined subjects with unilateral knee or shoulder pain. Each subject was examined twice. Passive physiologic motions, 2 at the knee and 5 at the shoulder, were tested by applying an overpressure at the end of range of motion using standardized positions. Subjects reported the amount of pain (0-10) immediately after the evaluator recorded the end-feel. Analyses included one-way ANOVAs and post-hoc Tukey's Honestly Significant Difference tests.

RESULTS: Some abnormal-pathologic end-feels were significantly more painful than the normal end-feels at both the knee and the shoulder for all physiologic motions. Among the abnormal-pathologic end-feel categories there were no statistical differences in pain intensity, although small samples in some categories may be responsible for this finding.

CONCLUSION: Abnormal-pathologic end-feels are associated with more pain than normal end-feels during passive physiologic motion testing at the knee or shoulder. Dysfunction should be suspected when abnormal-pathologic end-feels are present.