Patellar Apprehension Test

Orthopedic Exam / Special Tests for Physical Therapy: KNEE

 In most cases with patellar dislocations, the patellar dislocates laterally. This results in stretching of the medial tissues and can result in continued instability. While most patients with first time patellar dislocations should undergo a nonoperative treatment program, patients who have recurring patellar instability should consider a surgical reconstruction to prevent recurrent instability in the future.

The best test to determine whether a patient is having symptoms from a subluxing or dislocating patella, is the lateral patellar apprehension test. For some patients who have normal joint laxity and if they do not feel as if the patella is going to dislocate, increased lateral subluxation may be normal for them. In this case, one should assess the contralateral normal knee to verify their exam. In patients who feel like the patella is going to redislocate especially when it reproduces their symptoms, one should be concerned that their symptoms are due to recurrent patellar subluxation or dislocation. 

Special Test:  Patellar Apprehension Test


  • To test whether the patella is likely to dislocate laterally

Video Demo Instructions, Procedure, Positive Test:

Special Test: Patellar Apprehension Test Video Demo (Procedure below)

Special Test: Patellar Apprehension Test: PROCEDURE:

• Patient is supine with their affected knee extended
• Therapists uses a slow and moderate pressure against the medial aspect of the patella moving it in a lateral direction
• Therapist observes patient’s reaction

Special Test: Patellar Apprehension Test: POSITIVE SIGN:

  • Patient expresses apprehension and/ or might try to move their affected knee away from the pressure