The Tripod Sign is a quick and easy orthopedic test to assess the length of the hamstring muscles that are commonly short.
To perform this test, have your patient seated with his knees flexed to 90° over the edge of the bench. Then passively extend one knee. If your patient’s hamstrings are tight on the side of the extended knee, he will extend the trunk to relieve tension in the hamstring muscles. Afterward, return the leg to the starting position, repeat the test with the other leg and compare both sides. In this test, it is important to exclude a nerve root problem which can give a positive test as well. In this case, your patient will complain of shooting pain down the entire leg instead of muscular tension in the hamstrings.
This test is positive, if your patient has to lean backward to relieve tension in the hamstrings when the knee is fully extended.
Other common orthopedic tests to assess muscle length around the hip:
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