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Differential Diagnosis & Management of Anterior Knee Pain

presented by Dan Rhon, PT, DPT, DSc, OCS, FAAOMPT

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Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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This course is part of our OCS Prep-Program. Learn more about the full prep-program here: MedBridge OCS Prep-Program.

A well-focused history and physical examination is the key to properly assessing anterior knee pain. But successful management depends on a good knowledge of prognostic factors, with a solid understanding of the anatomy and biomechanics of the tibiofemoral joint, and a clear ability to identify the exact location of symptoms and the nature of the activity that lead to the injury. The anterior knee pain is the most common knee complaint that patients seek healthcare for. It is most commonly associated with several overuse injuries. This course will provide an understanding of the two most common overuse pathologies associated with anterior knee pain and help you to accurately articulate the evidence supporting exercise therapy in the management of anterior knee pain disorders. Following completion, you will have a better understanding of the appropriate components of a comprehensive and clinically relevant physical examination of the knee, along with a differential diagnosis list that must be ruled out.

Meet Your Instructor


Dr. Dan Rhon is a clinician, active researcher, and assistant professor at Baylor University in Texas. He received an MPT and DSc through Baylor University, and then a DPT through Temple University. He attended a manual therapy clinical fellowship at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, is a fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Basic Anatomy and Biomechanics of the Anterior Knee Complex

In this chapter Dr. Rhon will cover the anatomy and physiology of the patellofemoral joint, and its role in the function of the knee joint. There will be review of the anatomical structure of the patellofemoral joint and peri-patellar structures, and he'll give us an analysis of the biomechanics of the knee with specific focus on the patellofemoral joint, and its role during flexion and extension of the tibiofemoral joint.

2. Epidemiology and Etiology of Anterior Knee Pain

Dr. Rhon will cover the epidemiology and etiology of two most common anterior knee pain diagnoses, patellar tendonopathy and patellofemoral pain syndrome, to include prevalence and high risk populations.

3. Subjective Evaluation of Patients With Anterior Knee Pain

In this chapter we will cover the subjective examination of the patient with anterior knee pain. The subjective approach is very important, as it helps you plan your objective exam. Your interviewing skills are key as you attempt to identify the problem as it is most relevant to the patient, and understand how historical variables and current symptoms play into the diagnosis and prognosis.

4. Objective Evaluation of Patients With Anterior Knee Pain

This chapter will cover the objective examination of the patient with anterior knee pain. The objective exam serves as a tool to help strengthen the initial hypotheses that was established in regards to the patient’s complaint. A physical examination of the direct and indirect structures of the knee, and their association with pain and function, can help the clinician determine an appropriate diagnosis and course of treatment, as well as establish a prognosis for recovery.

5. The Role of Diagnostic Imaging in the Diagnosis and Management of Anterior Knee Pain

Dr. Rhon will review the current evidence for the role of diagnostic imaging in the diagnosis of anterior knee pain. He'll also discuss the diagnostic value of radiographs, MRI, and CT-Scan for the diagnosis of anterior knee pain.

6. Overview of Effective Non-Surgical Interventions for Anterior Knee Pain

In the final chapter of this course we'll assess the current evidence for non-surgical treatments for anterior knee pain. There will be a discussion of the specifics of exercise therapy in the management of anterior knee pain, and a review of the management of patellofemoral disorders and patellar tendinopathy.

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