It has been stated many times before that our knees take up a lot of stress, it can stand forces up to seven times our bodyweight too. For athletes, especially those who have to deal with a lot of running, jumping or extreme weightlifting, their knees are susceptible to all kinds of major injuries.

Our knee has 4 important ligaments that help to stabilize it, these include the medial collateral ligament, the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), the anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament. The LCL is located from the lateral epicondyle of the femur till the fibular head. When the leg is extended at 0 degrees, the LCL is stretched and it remains loose when the knee is flexed.

The Varus stress test is done to assess if there is any damage to the lateral collateral ligament by examining the joint laxity of the outer side of the knee. The patient is made to lie on their back while the doctor uses one hand to hold the ankle of the affected leg in place, while the other hand is placed on the joint line in the outer side of the knee, just like the Valgus test. The examiner will then flex the knee between 20 to 30 degrees followed by exerting a lateral (Varus) force. In more severe cases, the test can also be conducted when the leg is extended at 0 degrees as well. A Varus force of 15 to 20 pounds is supposed to be exerted to get accurate results.

In the Varus Stress test, if the results for the test are positive, they are measured in a 1-4 Grade scale, where grade 1 means slight tenderness, with only minor tears. Grade 2 means a 5-10mm joint space and slight knee instability, with more severe ligament tears and grade 3 refers to a 10-15mm joint space with moderate knee instability.

The Varus Stress Test: Knee Problems