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A complete knee examination is always done
for a knee complaint. Both of your knees will be checked, and the results for
the injured knee will be compared to those of the healthy knee. Your doctor
will also check that the nerves and blood vessels are intact.
Your doctor will:
A McMurray test may be done if your
doctor suspects a problem with the
menisci based on your medical history and the above
exams. In this test, while you lie on the table, your doctor holds your
knee and the bottom of your foot. He or she then pushes your leg up (bending
your knee) while turning the leg and pressing on the knee. If there is pain and
the sound or feeling of a click, the menisci may be damaged.
Arthrometric testing of the knee may also be done. In this
test, your doctor will use an instrument to measure the looseness of your knee.
This test is especially useful in people whose pain or physical size makes a
physical exam difficult. An arthrometer has two sensor pads and a pressure
handle that allows your doctor to put force on the knee. The instrument is
strapped on to your lower leg so that the sensor pads are placed on the knee
cap and the small bump just below it (tibial tubercle). Your doctor then
measures pressure by pulling or pushing on the pressure handle.
Your exam may also include other tests to assess the degree of the injury
and to identify damage to other parts of the knee.
A complete physical exam of the knee
is always done for a knee complaint, whether the complaint is from a recent or
sudden (acute) injury or from long-lasting or recurrent (chronic)
In general, in a normal knee exam:
If any of these findings are not true—for example, the knee
is tender—you may have a knee injury. But the results of a knee exam vary
depending on whether the exam is for a sudden injury to the knee or for
long-term symptoms and also depending on how long it has been since the injury
occurred. An abnormal finding does not always mean that your knee is injured.
Your doctor will use the results of the exam, plus your medical history, to
make a diagnosis.
These tests provide the best
information if there is little or no knee swelling, you are able to relax, and
your doctor is able to move your knee and leg freely. If this is not the case,
it may be difficult to accurately check your knee.
If your knee is
red, hot, or very swollen, a
knee joint aspiration (arthrocentesis) may be done,
which involves removing fluid from the knee joint. This is done to:
Local anesthetic may be injected after aspiration to
reduce pain and make the exam easier.
If you are going to have
arthroscopy, the knee may be examined in the operating room before the
procedure, while you are under
general or spinal anesthesia.
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
April 5, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Freddie H. Fu, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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