Knee Orthopaedic Test: Passive Knee Extension Test

orthopaedic tests May 28, 2023

Passive Knee Extension Test is a physical examination technique used to evaluate the range of motion of the knee joint. Here are the steps to perform the test:

  1. Ask the patient to lie down in a supine position on an examination table with both legs straight out.
  2. Expose the affected leg by rolling up the pant leg or by using a gown.
  3. Grasp the thigh of the affected leg with one hand, just above the knee joint, and the ankle with the other hand.
  4. Slowly and gently lift the affected leg off the table and extend the knee joint to its maximum range of motion while keeping the hip flexed.
  5. Hold the extended position for a few seconds and then release the leg back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the test a few times to confirm the range of motion.
  7. Compare the range of motion of the affected knee joint with that of the unaffected knee joint.
  8. Document the findings in the patient's medical record.

It is important to perform the test gently and to avoid causing any pain or discomfort to the patient. This test is commonly used in physical therapy, sports medicine, and orthopedics to evaluate the knee joint's range of motion and to diagnose conditions such as knee joint contractures, ligament injuries, and meniscal tears.



  1. Magee, D. J. (2014). Orthopedic Physical Assessment-E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  2. Soucie, J. M., Wang, C., Forsyth, A., & Funk, S. (2009). Range of motion measurements: reference values and a database for comparison studies. Haemophilia, 15(1), 183-190.
  3. Reese, N. B., Bandy, W. D., & Hall, E. A. (2006). Joint range of motion and muscle length testing. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  4. Kaneko, T., Deie, M., Adachi, N., Yasumoto, M., & Ochi, M. (2002). Evaluation of knee joint contracture by passive extension angle with a modified goniometer. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 83(7), 971-975.
  5. Hopkins, J. T., Ingersoll, C. D., Edwards, J. E., & Cordova, M. L. (2000). Use of the passive extension test to evaluate knee joint stiffness before and after cryotherapy. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 30(1), 21-26.

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