Physical Examination of the Knee: Meniscus, Cartilage, and Patellofemoral Conditions

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2017 May;25(5):365-374. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-15-00464.


The knee is one of the most commonly injured joints in the body. Its superficial anatomy enables diagnosis of the injury through a thorough history and physical examination. Examination techniques for the knee described decades ago are still useful, as are more recently developed tests. Proper use of these techniques requires understanding of the anatomy and biomechanical principles of the knee as well as the pathophysiology of the injuries, including tears to the menisci and extensor mechanism, patellofemoral conditions, and osteochondritis dissecans. Nevertheless, the clinical validity and accuracy of the diagnostic tests vary. Advanced imaging studies may be useful adjuncts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cartilage / injuries
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Menisci, Tibial
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans / diagnosis
  • Physical Examination
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries / diagnosis