Common errors and clinical guidelines for manual muscle testing: "The arm test" and other inaccurate procedures

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Background: The manual muscle test (MMT) has been offered as a chiropractic assessment tool that may help diagnose neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction. We contend that due to the number of manipulative practitioners using this test as part of the assessment of patients, clinical guidelines for the MMT are required to heighten the accuracy in the use of this tool. Objective: To present essential operational definitions of the MMT for chiropractors and other clinicians that should improve the reliability of the MMT as a diagnostic test. Controversy about the usefulness and reliability of the MMT for chiropractic diagnosis is ongoing, and clinical guidelines about the MMT are needed to resolve confusion regarding the MMT as used in clinical practice as well as the evaluation of experimental evidence concerning its use. Discussion: We expect that the resistance to accept the MMT as a reliable and valid diagnostic tool will continue within some portions of the manipulative professions if clinical guidelines for the use of MMT methods are not established and accepted. Unreliable assessments of this method of diagnosis will continue when non-standard MMT research papers are considered representative of the methods used by properly trained clinicians. Conclusion: Practitioners who employ the MMT should use these clinical guidelines for improving their use of the MMT in their assessments of muscle dysfunction in patients with musculoskeletal pain. © 2008 Schmitt and Cuthbert; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Schmitt, W. H., & Cuthbert, S. C. (2008). Common errors and clinical guidelines for manual muscle testing: “The arm test” and other inaccurate procedures. Chiropractic and Osteopathy, 16.

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