The Slump test, first described by Geoff Maitland PT some 40 years ago is used to elicit “sciatic” symptoms or pain radiating from the sciatic nerve or lumbar nerve roots. There are several forms or variations all meant to tense and thereby ‘irritate’ the lumbar nerve roots. The patient sits on a bench that allows there feet to hang without touching the floor. As with other neuro-mechanical tension tests a progressive application of movements and tensioning are added to elicit pain.
The patient slumps forward and the painful leg is raised (the foot can be dorsi-flexed preliminarily or after the addition of further leg extension) then further neck flexion is added to fully ‘tense’ the nerves. A positive finding is reproduction of pain. The positive test may suggest the patient is a candidate for flossing procedures…either seated or lying. If neck flexion doesn’t create pain then the sciatic nerve is not the structure of interest. If extension of the skull (while maintaining the various provoking positions) dramatically improves the pain it is assumed nerve tension may indeed be a source of pain.