Knee Examination

Discover how a knee examination test can assist in diagnosing knee conditions. Download our free PDF guide for a comprehensive knee exam!

By Audrey Liz Perez on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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Knee Examination PDF Example
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What is a Knee Examination?

A is a critical component of the musculoskeletal assessment conducted by healthcare professionals, including doctors, physical therapists, and sports medicine specialists. The knee, one of the most complex and largest joints in the body, plays a crucial role in movement and bearing the body's weight, making it susceptible to various injuries and conditions.

The knee examination, also referred to as a knee exam or knee assessment, is to detect any abnormalities that may be causing knee pain or limiting function. This could range from acute injuries such as ligament or meniscal tears, dislocations, and fractures to chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis.

The examination involves a systematic approach, starting with a detailed history to understand the nature of the complaint, followed by a physical examination. The physical examination typically includes:

  • Inspection: Visually examining the knee for signs of swelling, bruising, redness, deformity, or other visible abnormalities, as well as assessing the patient's gait and alignment of the lower limbs.
  • Palpation: Feeling the knee joint and surrounding structures to detect areas of warmth, tenderness, or swelling, which may indicate inflammation or injury.
  • Range of Motion Testing: Evaluating the knee's movement capacity, including flexion, extension, and rotation, to determine any limitations or pain during these movements.
  • Special Tests: Performing specific maneuvers to identify or rule out certain conditions, such as ligamentous or meniscal injuries.
  • Neurovascular Examination: Checking the blood flow and nerve function in the lower limb to ensure the knee problem hasn’t affected the limb's overall health.

Through these methods, a knee examination provides a comprehensive insight into the overall health and functionality of the knee, thereby guiding further investigations, diagnosis, and treatment plans.

Whether the patient is an athlete with a sports injury, an older adult with arthritis, or anyone experiencing unexplained knee pain, a knee examination is valuable in managing their care.

Here is a video on how you can use a knee pain chart to assess your client's knee pain:

Printable Knee Examination

Download this Knee Examination to diagnose knee issues in patients.

How does this Knee Exam work?

A knee exam provides a systematic and comprehensive approach to assessing the knee's health and identifying potential issues. This method involves several key steps, each focusing on the knee's structure and function. 

Our knee examination template is a valuable tool for documenting this process effectively. This structured format ensures no details are overlooked and all findings are accurately recorded, facilitating an informed diagnosis and treatment plan.

Step 1: Patient's Information

Begin by filling out the patient's basic details, including their name, age, sex, and examination date.

Step 2: Medical History

Record any relevant information about the patient's health, including their present complaint, duration of symptoms, past knee injuries or surgeries, current medications, and allergies.

Step 3: Examination Procedure

Document the findings of each step of the physical examination:

  • Look (Inspection): Write down your observations about the appearance of the knees, including any swelling, redness, deformities, or scars.
  • Feel (Palpation): Note down any areas of tenderness, warmth, or swelling found during the palpation of the knee.
  • Move (Range of Motion and Stability): Document the knee's active and passive range of motion and any pain or instability experienced during these movements.
  • Special Tests: Record the results of any specific tests, such as the Anterior Drawer or McMurray’s tests.
  • Neurovascular Examination: Document your assessment of the lower limb's neurovascular integrity.

Step 4: Findings and Recommendations

Based on the examination, write down your findings and any recommendations you might have for the patient.

Step 5: Treatment Plan

Develop an immediate and long-term plan for the patient's treatment, including any necessary follow-up appointments.

Step 6: Other Relevant Information

Include any other information relevant to the patient's situation, such as their lifestyle or family history.

When used accurately and thoroughly, the knee examination template is valuable for ensuring a comprehensive knee assessment, guiding diagnosis, and shaping effective treatment plans.


There isn't a universal scoring system for a general knee examination, as it is more about gathering information to inform a diagnosis rather than scoring a patient’s knee health. 

Each examination component (inspection, palpation, movement, special tests, and neurovascular examination) contributes to an overall clinical picture. However, for some specific knee conditions, validated scoring systems, such as the Lysholm Knee Scoring Scale, are used for patients with ligamentous injuries.

Knee Examination Example (Sample)

Understanding how to accurately fill out a knee examination template is crucial. To assist with this, we have provided a sample completed knee examination table featuring our fictional character, Kim Yun-Hee. 

In this sample, you'll find example responses for each section of the examination, illustrating how a comprehensive knee exam might be documented. By reviewing this completed table, you can better understand how to detail your findings and subsequent recommendations when conducting your knee examinations. 

This practical example is a useful guide, helping you make the most out of your knee assessment and ensuring that no crucial information is overlooked.

Download this Knee Examination Example (Sample) here:

Knee Examination Example (Sample)

When to use this Knee Assessment?

A knee examination is an invaluable tool that can be utilized in various situations, making it indispensable in healthcare practice.

Patient Complaints

The knee examination should be employed whenever a patient presents with knee-related complaints. This could include pain, swelling, instability, or decreased knee range of motion.

Acute Injuries

Following an acute injury, such as a fall, sports-related injury, or a motor vehicle accident, a knee examination can help ascertain the extent of the injury and identify any structural damage.

Chronic Conditions

In chronic knee discomfort, such as persistent pain, stiffness, or recurring swelling, a knee exam can help pinpoint the underlying condition, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, or other degenerative diseases.

Preventive Measures

For individuals involved in high-risk activities or professions that stress the knee joint significantly (like professional athletes, dancers, or construction workers), regular knee assessments can help detect early signs of damage and prevent severe injury.

Postoperative Follow-ups

After knee surgery, knee examinations play a critical role in monitoring the recovery process, evaluating the effectiveness of the treatment, and detecting any potential complications.

Who are these Knee Examination PDFs for?

These knee examination PDFs are designed for a broad spectrum of healthcare practitioners involved in diagnosing and treating knee conditions:

Orthopedic Surgeons

The templates can serve as a comprehensive guide for assessing the knee joint's integrity and function, aiding in diagnosis and treatment planning.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists can use these templates to evaluate a patient's progress during rehabilitation and adjust treatment strategies accordingly.

General Practitioners and Family Physicians

In a primary care setting, these templates provide a structured approach for the initial assessment of knee complaints, facilitating early detection of potential issues and timely referral when needed.

Sports Medicine Specialists

For those treating athletes, these templates can assist in diagnosing sports-related knee injuries and monitor the healing process.

Medical Students and Residents

For those in the learning phase of their medical journey, these templates serve as an excellent educational tool to understand the process of a comprehensive knee examination.


Nurses involved in pre and postoperative care, as well as in clinics and community settings, can utilize these templates to document patient progress and response to treatment.

In essence, anyone involved in assessing knee health can benefit from these knee examination PDFs, making them an essential resource in musculoskeletal and orthopedic care.

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Benefits of Free Knee Exam

A knee examination is necessary for diagnosing and managing knee-related issues. A free knee examination template offers healthcare providers a systematic guide for conducting a thorough assessment and numerous other benefits that improve the quality of patient care and enhance the practitioner's efficiency. 

Here's a closer look at the advantages of using a free knee exam template:

1. Comprehensive Evaluation

This template ensures a comprehensive approach to assessing the knee. Outlining all crucial steps—from inspection to special tests—helps practitioners systematically evaluate the knee's health. This thoroughness minimizes the risk of missing subtle signs and symptoms, improving diagnostic accuracy.

2. Easily Accessible

In today's digital age, easy access to reliable health information is crucial. Available in a downloadable, accessible PDF format, this knee examination template can be accessed on various devices anytime, anywhere. It's an excellent resource for practitioners seeking immediate guidance, especially in remote or resource-limited settings.

3. Standardized Approach

A standardized template maintains consistency in performing knee examinations, regardless of the practitioner. This consistency ensures that all critical aspects are covered in each exam, making it easier to compare findings over time or between different healthcare providers. It also enhances communication among healthcare professionals, promoting better overall care.

4. Educational Value

The knee examination template is a valuable learning tool for medical students, residents, and other trainees. Outlining each knee exam step provides a clear and concise learning resource. It not only assists in understanding the process of knee examination but also reinforces the importance of a systematic approach in clinical practice.

5. Patient Involvement

A clear understanding of the healthcare process fosters patient engagement and trust. With this template, practitioners can easily explain the different steps involved in the knee exam to their patients. This transparency can enhance patient comfort, cooperation, and satisfaction, leading to a more effective examination and a better patient-practitioner relationship.

Why use this Knee Examination app?

Using an app like Carepatron for conducting knee examinations offers many benefits. Carepatron streamlines the process of examination by providing a user-friendly interface, clear instructions, and the ability to document findings easily. 

This platform enhances patient-doctor communication, ensures comprehensive assessment, and facilitates efficient record-keeping. Further, it allows healthcare providers to effortlessly share examination findings with their colleagues, fostering a collaborative approach to patient care. 

In an era where digital health is advancing fast, conducting knee examinations on a robust app like Carepatron is an innovative and convenient choice.

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Who created the Knee Examination?
Who created the Knee Examination?

Commonly asked questions

Who created the Knee Examination?

The concept of a systematic knee examination has been a part of orthopedic practice for many years, developed and refined by countless healthcare professionals. It's not attributable to a single creator but a collective medical understanding.

How to interpret the Knee Examination?

Interpreting a knee examination involves understanding the results of each step - inspection, palpation, movement, special tests, and neurovascular examination. Each finding contributes to the overall clinical picture and, combined with the patient's symptoms and medical history, helps guide the diagnosis and treatment plan.

How to perform the Knee Examination?

Performing a knee examination involves a series of steps, including looking at the knee, feeling for abnormalities, checking the range of motion, conducting special tests, and assessing the neurovascular status. A trained healthcare professional best performs it. Always refer to an established clinical guide or consult a medical professional if you're unsure.

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