Physical Examination

Painful Knee












Common Examination Components:

(You are likely to be expected to examine the common components in each case)


  • ‘What you have told me suggests I need to examine your right/left knee. Please could you roll up your trousers or take them off if necessary so I can see your knee joint'



(inspect gait, expose the knee, look for deformity, swelling, effusion)


Limit palpation to the affected side only

  • palpate from quadriceps to patella tendon for tendonitis, joint line tenderness


Range of Movement:

Compare range of movement on either side 

  • Flexion (loss of flexion may indicate arthritis or meniscal injury)
  • Extension


Joint Stability:

  • Draw test (for ACL stability)
  • Collateral ligament (with limb at 15 degrees of flexion)





Additional Examination Components:

(Examine an additional component If the specified indication is present)


Indication: History suggestive of meniscal tear (twisting knee injury)


Components: Meniscal testing - either McMurray or Thessaly tests.



What CSA Examiners and Trainers Expect - A Typical Scenario

(Study by N.Boeckx: Data from 300 GP Trainers and 16 CSA examiners)

Case Details: A 48 year old man presents with knee pain. The cause is a meniscal tear. The history and examination is consistent with a medial meniscal tear.    Choose the examinations you would expect from a safe GP in a 10 minute consultation.

Case Discussion: If you get a knee exam you should rejoice because the knee examination is a relatively straight forward one. Why? Because the number of components are relatively few, little selection of components is required and each examination component is brief and simple to interpret.

Main Exam Menu

Main Exam Menu

Main Exam Menu

Main Exam Menu