Orthopedic Physical Assessment by David Magee

If you are a Therapist or student looking for an easy-to-follow, how-to guide to MSK assessment then this book could be for you…

Part of Elsevier’s Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Series,Orthopedic Physical Assessment sets out to provide “a comprehensive guide to selecting diagnostic tests for accurate musculoskeletal assessment”, covering all individual joints of the body as well as gait, posture, amputees, primary care and emergency sports. Read more about what’s included direct from the Publisher here.

What it does

At more than 1000 pages, this is quite a mighty tome with a strong focus on detail. However don’t let this put you off as the book overall is well structured and broken down into easily navigable sections. There are also plenty of summary boxes, diagrams and tables to highlight key information throughout, e.g, red flag information, differential diagnosis summaries.

The most thumbed chapters for practicing Therapists will likely be those detailing assessment of individual joints. Highlights include printable assessment forms available online, images and diagrams to prompt observation skills and detailed ‘how-to’ guides to physical examination techniques and special tests. What makes these chapters really useful for a busy clinician looking for speedy answers are a few key features:

  • All special tests are categorized simply to denote the level of supporting evidence, allowing for quick judgment of their appropriateness (with detailed reliability and validity tables available in the online extras).
  •  Video clips in the online content provide unambiguous demonstration of techniques.
  • End-of-chapter summaries give an at-a-glance guide to each joint.

In addition to reference sections at the end of each chapter, a rather heavy list of Suggested Reading texts is also included – being critical, these somewhat unwieldy pages would perhaps have benefitted from signposting to make them more accessible. However, the worth of all reference detail is improved by the online feature of citation links to Medline abstracts.

What it doesn’t do

Although anatomy is considered during the course of each chapter you need to dig a little deeper to find it, and a baseline knowledge of anatomy and physiology is assumed.  It should be noted that this book covers just assessment principles, not treatment techniques (noted to be covered in the companion books in the series).  In addition, the paediatric patient is not well catered for – although individual tests and considerations for paediatrics are included, these are easy to miss.

Somewhat disappointingly there are limited interactive elements to the book, where other volumes may have included quizzes to test learning. However, short case studies at the end of each chapter do provide an opportunity for further self-study, and might be particularly useful for student or in-service study group discussions.


This book offers a comprehensive systematic approach to assessment of all the individual joints in the body. Very heavy on the detail, it certainly isn’t bedtime reading, but could become a very useful on the shelf reference tool for both students and practicing MSK Therapists alike.

Orthopedic Physical Assessment by MageeNewly updated, this full-color text offers a rich array of features to help you develop your musculoskeletal assessment skills. Orthopedic Physical Assessment, 6th Edition provides rationales for various aspects of assessment and covers every joint of the body, as well as specific topics including principles of assessment, gait, posture, the head and face, the amputee, primary care, and emergency sports assessment. Artwork and photos with detailed descriptions of assessments clearly demonstrate assessment methods, tests, and causes of pathology. The text also comes with an array of online learning tools, including video clips demonstrating assessment tests, assessment forms, and more.