MSK assessment

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  • Any mobile joint including the neck and spine can be examined in a systematic manner
  • Attention should be given to detailed palpation and movement

The key aspects are

  • Look – swelling/deformity/abnormal posture, inflammation/redness
  • Feel – localising tenderness, crepitus
  • Move – passive (in plane, out of plane), active and resisted
  • Neuro-vascular exam – sensory, motor, colour, pulses and capillary refill

Important points in clinical skills

  • When palpating be very deliberate and precise about what specific structure you are examining e.g. bone, capsule, ligament, joint line, bursa, tendon, muscle (i.e. time to revise your surface anatomy!)
  • Pain elicited by the type of movement can help isolate the structure involved depending if it occurs only with active contraction and not passive movement or only exacerbated by stretch or out of plane stress

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