Today we look at how to assess for a strain of the popliteus muscle. Just to recap, the popliteus muscle is found at the back of the knee & externally rotates the femur (or internally rotates the tibia) to initiate knee bending. The popliteus is also in a complex area called the postero-lateral corner of the knee. 🦵
To diagnose a popliteal strain would include a combination of resisted movement testing & movement patterns observation. It would also require testing of other nearby structures to differentiate between injury of structures. Today, we show a few simple ones that your therapist would likely test if they suspect a popliteal strain. 📋
First, the patient lies prone. The tibia (lower leg) is brought into external rotation & the patient tries to bend & internally rotate the leg together. Next, we have the patient facing up. The therapist will bend & internally rotate the tibia. The patient tries to hold this position while the therapist tries to externally rotate the tibia.
If the popliteus is injured, there may be pain &/or weakness during these resisted movements testing.
To include or exclude other structures in the diagnosis, we need to make use of special tests. This can include McMurray's testing for the integrity of the meniscus or as seen in the video, the dial test. The dial test tests for postero-lateral knee instability. In prone, the therapist will passively externally rotate both legs at 30 & 90 deg flexion. The test is positive if the injured knee has 10 deg or more external rotation compared to the opposite knee.
Do check in with your physiotherapist for assessment & advice if you suspect you have this injury. DM or call us at 6262 0970/ 8218 2905! 📱
📝1. Dial Test. (n.d.). Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Dial_Test
📝2. Popliteus Tendinopathy. (n.d.). Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Popliteus_Tendinopathy
📝3. Brukner, P., & Khan, K. (2006). Clinical Sports Medicine (3rd edition). McGraw-Hill Book Company Australia.
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