Name of test

Biceps tendon reflex

What it tests

C5 nerve root

How to do it

With the patients forearm resting on the examiner’s forearm, grasp the patient’s arm at the elbow with the examiner’s thumb on the patient’s biceps tendon. Tap the examiner’s thumb.

The normal response

2+ reflex. The examiner should feel a contraction of the biceps tendon. A contraction of the biceps may be seen as well.

What it means if not normal


The biceps brachii is innervated by the musculocutaneous nerve (C5, C6). Therefore a patient with a C5 radiculopathy may not exhibit complete absence of the biceps tendon reflex.

The biceps reflex can also be tested when a C6 radiculopathy is suspected.


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