Knee examination

The knee examination, in medicine and physiotherapy, is performed as part of a physical examination, or when a patient presents with knee pain or a history that suggests a pathology of the knee joint.

The exam includes several parts:

The latter three steps are often remembered with the saying look, feel, move.


Position – for most of the exam the patient should be supine and the bed or examination table should be flat. The patient's hands should remain at his or her sides with the head resting on a pillow. The knees and hips should be in the anatomical position (knee extend, hip neither flexed or extend).

Lighting – adjusted so that it is ideal.

Draping – both of the patient's knees should be exposed so that the quadriceps muscles can be assessed.

Inspection done while the patient is standing

The knee should be examined for:

Inspection done while supine

The knee should be examined for:


An inflamed knee exhibits tumor (swelling), rubor (redness), calor (heat), dolor (pain). Swelling and redness should be evident by inspection. Pain is gained by history and heat by palpation.


The patient should be asked to move their knee. Fully range of motion is 0-135 degrees. If the patient has full range of motion and can move their knee on their own it is not necessary to move the knee passively.

Ligament tests

Meniscus tests

Additional Tests

See also


  1. Jacobs, Brian (21 March 2011). "eMedicine - Knee Osteochondritis Dissecans : Article by Brian Jacobs". Mediscape. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  2. Wittke R (November 2004). "Acute and chronic injuries to the knee in the doctor's office". MMW Fortschr Med (in German). 146 (45): 46–9. PMID 15581106.
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