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SYNOPSIS: Neurological testing is essential for screening and diagnosing suspected peripheral neuropathies. Detecting changes in somatosensory and motor nerve function can also have direct implications for management decisions. Nevertheless, there is considerable variation in what is included in a bedside neurological examination, and how it is performed. Neurological examinations are often used as screening tools to detect neurological deficits, but not used to their full potential for monitoring progress or deterioration. Here, we advocate for better use of the neurological examination within a clinical reasoning framework. Constrained by the lack of research in this field, our viewpoint is based on neuroscientific principles. We highlight six challenges for clinicians when conducting neurological examinations, and propose ways to overcome these challenges in clinical practice. We challenge widely held ideas about how the results of neurological examinations for peripheral neuropathies are interpreted and how the examinations are performed in practice.

Original publication




Journal article


J Orthop Sports Phys Ther

Publication Date



1 - 17


Peripheral nerve injuries, motor testing, neurological examination, peripheral neuropathy, reflex testing, sensory testing