A physical exam for knee problems includes assessment for
patellar tracking disorder. Your doctor
will observe you in the following situations.
As you stand and walk, your doctor
will watch for:
Signs that a kneecap is not in a normal position
or moving out of place, toward the outer side.
Any abnormal movements of your body, such as an unusual gait, that may be contributing to a knee problem.
While you're sitting with your knees bent over the
edge of the exam table, your doctor will:
Determine whether your kneecaps are
positioned properly. Normally, the kneecap faces forward, centered over the
middle of the thighbone when viewed from the front. A kneecap out of place most
frequently faces upwards and is tilted off-center toward the outside of the
Watch as you straighten your legs, to check for sideways
kneecap movement. Normally, the kneecap moves slightly toward the outside just
as the leg straightens. A kneecap out of place is likely to shift
Watch as you bend your straightened legs halfway
(45-degree angle) down to the floor, to check your lower thigh muscle
(quadriceps) strength. Normally, the quadriceps help anchor the kneecap. Weak
quadriceps often contribute to patellar tracking disorder.
Next, your doctor will:
Feel the kneecap as you bend your knee, to check
for possible cartilage problems underneath the kneecap.
the areas around your kneecap, to assess for tendon, muscle, or other soft
Move your leg(s) in various directions, to check
for pain and stability of the knee and to assess the range of motion. These
movements are also used to check the degree of tightness in the:
Examine your hips, feet, and ankles to look for
problems that may contribute to knee symptoms and to check how nerves and blood vessels in the leg are working. This part of the physical exam may possibly include X-ray
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.