Key Motor and Sensory Exam

  • Eric M. Steinberg
  • Salvador Forte
  • Bryan A. Terry
  • Daniel PurcellEmail author


Knowledge of anatomic distribution and function, as well as performance of a comprehensive physical examination, is required for appropriate diagnostic evaluation and management of the injured emergency room patient. Accumulation of this pertinent skill set requires didactic and associated temporal clinical experience. The following section will describe selected neuromotor structure(s) and function, specialized supplemental testing techniques, and advanced clinical pearls to assist with implementation of meticulous treatment and timely disposition.


Axillary nerve Radial nerve Median nerve Ulnar nerve Cutaneous innervation/dermatome(s) Distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) Kanavel signs Femoral nerve Sciatic nerve Anterior talo-fibular ligament (ATFL) Calcaneo-fibular ligament (CFL) Deltoid ligament 

Suggested Reading

  1. 1.
    Asbury AK. Chapter 23. Numbness, tingling, and sensory loss. In: Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Jameson JL, Loscalzo J, editors. Harrison’s principles of internal medicine. 18th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2012. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brukner P, Khan KM. Acute ankle injuries. In: Clinical sports medicine. 3rd ed. San Francisco: McGraw-Hill; 2006.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burbank K, et al. Chronic shoulder pain: part I. Evaluation & diagnosis. Am Fam Phys. 2008;77(4):453–60.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Clegg TE, Roberts CS, Greene JW, Prather BA. Hip dislocations–epidemiology, treatment, and outcomes. Injury. 2010;41(4):329–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cosgarea AJ, Jay PR. Posterior cruciate ligament injuries: evaluation and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2001;9(5):297–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    DeLee JC. Fracture and dislocation of the hip. In: Rockwood CA, Green DP, Bucholz RW, et al., editors. Fractures in adults. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1996. p. 1756–803.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    DeLee J, Drez D, Miller MD. DeLee and Drez’s orthopaedic sports medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Science; 2002. p. 1038–40.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dodson CC, Cordasco FA. Anterior glenohumeral joint dislocations. Orthop Clin North Am. 2008;39(4):507–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Eachempati KK, Dua A, Malhotra R, Bhan S, Bera JR. The external rotation method for reduction of acute anterior dislocations and fracture-dislocations of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2004;86-A(11):2431–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gottsegen C, et al. Avulsion fractures of the knee: imaging findings and clinical significance. Radiographics. 2008;28:1755–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hillyard RF, Fox J. Sciatic nerve injuries associated with traumatic posterior hip dislocations. Am J Emerg Med. 2003;21(7):545–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Johnson MW, et al. Acute knee effusions: a systematic approach to diagnosis. Am Fam Phys. 2000;61(8):2391–400.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kothari RU, Dronen SC. Prospective evaluation of the scapular manipulation technique in reducing anterior shoulder dislocations. Ann Emerg Med. 1992;21(11):1349–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lee BK, Nam SW. Rupture of posterior cruciate ligament: diagnosis and treatment principles. Knee Surg Relat Res. 2011;23(3):135–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Magee D. Lower leg, ankle, and foot. In: Orthopedic physical assessment. 4th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier Sciences; 2006.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric M. Steinberg
    • 1
  • Salvador Forte
    • 2
  • Bryan A. Terry
    • 3
  • Daniel Purcell
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineMount Sinai Beth IsraelNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryPhiladelphia College of Osteopathic MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.The Brooklyn Hospital CenterBrooklynUSA
  4. 4.Emergency DepartmentNew York University Langone Medical Center BrooklynNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations