Diagnosis and management of a patient with knee pain using the movement system impairment classification system

Marcie Harris-Hayes, Shirley A. Sahrmann, Barbara J. Norton, Gretchen B. Salsich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Fish eye STUDY DESIGN: Case report. Fish eye BACKGROUND: Selecting the most effective conservative treatment for knee pain continues to be a challenge. An understanding of the underlying movement system impairment that is thought to contribute to the knee pain may assist in determining the most effective treatment. Our case report describes the treatment and outcomes of a patient with the proposed movement system impairment (MSI) diagnosis of tibiofemoral rotation. Fish eye CASE DESCRIPTION: The patient was a 50-year-old female with a 3-month history of left anteromedial knee pain. Her knee pain was aggravated with sitting, standing, and descending stairs. A standardized clinical examination was performed and the MSI diagnosis of tibiofemoral rotation was determined. The patient consistently reported an increase in pain with activities that produced abnormal motions or alignments of the lower extremity in the frontal and transverse planes. The patient was educated to modify symptom-provoking functional activities by restricting the abnormal motions and alignments of the lower extremity. Exercises were prescribed to address impairments of muscle length, muscle strength, and motor control proposed to contribute to the tibiofemoral rotation. Tape also was applied to the knee in an attempt to restrict tibiofemoral rotation. Fish eye OUTCOMES: The patient reported a cessation of pain and an improvement in her functional activities that occurred with correction of her knee alignment and movement pattern. Pain intensity was 2/10 at 1 week. At 10 weeks, pain intensity was 0/10 and the patient reported no limitations in sitting, standing, or descending stairs. The patient's score on the activities of daily living scale increased from 73% at the initial visit to 86% at 10 weeks and 96% at 1 year after therapy was discontinued. Fish eye DISCUSSION: This case report presented a patient with knee pain and an MSI diagnosis of tibiofemoral rotation. Diagnosis-specific treatment resulted in a cessation of the patient's pain and an improved ability to perform functional activities. Fish eye LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapy, level 4.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Classification
  • Functional activities
  • Rehabilitation


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