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Abnormal Reflexes

A reflex is an involuntary action produced as a response to a stimulus. Tendon reflexes are tested to provide vital information on the integrity of the central and peripheral nervous system. The reflexes are:

Reflex Spinal Level Tested & Their Corresponding Spine Level Tested

  • Biceps - C5, 6
  • Brachioradialis - C5, 6, 7
  • Extensor Digitorum - C6, 7
  • Triceps - C6, 7, 8
  • Patella Tendon - L4
  •  Ankle Jerk - S1, 2
  •  Babinski (plantar response) - L5, S1, 2

Grading of reflexes shows abnormalities, the grades are:

  • Grade 0 – abnormal
  • Grade 1 – diminished (can be abnormal is asymmetric)
  • Grade 2 - normal
  • Grade 3- brisk (abnormal if asymmetric)
  • Grade 4 – repeating reflex (abnormal)

What causes abnormal reflexes?

If a reflex is graded as abnormal this can show there is:

  • A lesion in the motor pathway
  • A nerve compression
  • Neurological condition

Causes can be complex but with specific tests from a Physiotherapist a clearer picture may be gained.

How can Physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapy can help by assessing and giving possible diagnoses for the abnormal reflexes. Physiotherapists from Physio.co.uk can help treat the symptoms which can accompany abnormal reflexes such as:

  • Walking difficulties
  • Muscle weakness
  • Altered muscle tone
  • Abnormal sensations (pins and needles)

What type of Physiotherapy Treatments can be expected for abnormal reflexes?

Treatments for the additional symptoms can include:

Treatments will be decided upon at the initial assessment. Our senior physiotherapists can also signpost you to appropriate medical teams where necessary.


Abnormal reflexes can be as a result of many causes and can have an array of accompanying symptoms also. Our experienced senior physiotherapists can offer a professional high quality service to clients. Please contact us to arrange an appointment.