Salon Sink Radiculopathy:
A Case Series

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   Am J Phys Med Rehabil 1999;   78 (4) Jul–Aug:   381–383

Stitik TP, Nadler SF, Foye PM

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, USA

Cervical radiculopathy can be diagnosed on physical examination with the Spurling test, which narrows neural foramina via neck extension along with coupled rotation and side-bending. In the presence of cervical radiculopathy, this test can reproduce radicular symptoms by transmitting compressive forces to affected nerve roots as they traverse the neural foramina. Treatment of cervical radiculopathy includes patient education to avoid obvious postures that exacerbate radicular symptoms and to assume positions that centralize discomfort.

A potentially harmful position to which many patients are unwittingly subjected at least several times per year occurs when their hair is being shampooed in a salon sink before a haircut. This posture causes neck extension and is combined with rotation and side-bending as the patient's head is being manipulated during the shampooing. When the stylist then also applies a mild compressive force while shampooing the patient's hair, hyperextension of the neck is produced.

We present two patients with cervical radiculopathy that was significantly exacerbated after the patient's hair had been shampooed in a salon sink; subsequently, these patients required oral administration of steroids. These cases illustrate that patients with suspected or known cervical radiculopathy should be forewarned to avoid this otherwise seemingly innocuous activity.

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