A reliability study was conducted to determine whether palpatory findings on the cervical spine, obtained under normal chiropractic clinical conditions were reproducible. Forty normal freshman chiropractic students underwent static and motion palpation of their cervical spines by three different chiropractors. Intra- and inter-examiner reliability of findings was assessed by concordance statistics (weighted kappa). There was statistically significant agreement of findings for all three examiners only for fixations in the lower cervical spine. There was a total lack of statistical agreement of fixation findings, both intra- and inter-examiner, in the middle cervical area. Agreement of fixation findings was intermediate for the upper cervicals and also for the other palpation parameters that were used (e.g. muscle spasms and pain) throughout the cervical spine. The results generally indicate a relatively high level of replicability of palpatory findings in a normal asymptomatic population by 'typical' chiropractors. The relation of these palpatory findings to vertebral lesions, or subluxations, are unknown.
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