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History (knee joint)

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The following topics are helpful when asking about knee problems:

  • the patient's age and sex
  • pain:
    • site, radiation, quality, duration, exacerbating and relieving factors
    • attempt to distinguish between mechanical pain - often well-localised, and inflammatory or degenerative pain which is more diffuse
  • trauma:
    • any history of previous injury to the affected knee
    • note the degree of force and its direction
  • stiffness
  • swelling:
    • particularly time of onset in relation to injury: haemarthroses occur immediately, whilst post traumatic effusions later
  • locking:
    • inability to fully extend the knee. May be due to the catching of a torn meniscus.
    • ask the patient to show the position the knee is in when it locks
    • ask how locking is produced and relieved
  • giving way:
    • when going down stairs or when jumping from a height, indicative of patellar dislocation, cruciate ligament tears, loss of full knee extension, and quadriceps wasting
    • upon twisting or walking upon uneven ground, indicative of meniscal injuries
  • deformity:
    • genu varus or valgus
  • functional impairment:
    • stairs
    • walking distance
    • home circumstances

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The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


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