Full Course Description

Guide to Differential Diagnosis

Learn the who, what, where, when and why of differential diagnosis. Direct access to wellness care is becoming more prevalent. This requires the provider to have a clear sense of signs and symptoms that suggest more serious medical problems that require further evaluation by a primary care provider. Additionally, learn what symptoms require immediate emergency medical care vs less urgent presentations. Also, learn to recognize presentations of pain and dysfunction that ultimately do not fit the typical presentation of musculoskeletal origin and may be indicative of a more serious underlying medical condition. Recognition of atypical presentations or responses is essential to know when a patient should be referred for further medical evaluation. This course will present these topics in detail for improved safety of patient care and confidence to recognize more serious underlying pathology.

Program Information


  1. Apply knowledge of differential diagnosis proficiently in clinical practice.
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving for complex musculoskeletal diagnoses
  3. Utilize knowledge of systemic differential diagnosis to identify red flags of underlying serious medical conditions.
  4. Demonstrate clear guidelines for presentations requiring physician referral.


Identify importance of screening 

  • Direct Access
  • Early detection of conditions that mimic NMS conditions
  • Medication side effects
  • Disease prevention
Differential diagnosis vs Screening
  • Differential diagnosis follows examination and evaluation
  • Screening begins when the diagnosis fails to reveal an identifiable movement dysfunction
Indications of immediate medical care
  • Signs and symptoms to identify indications for emergency medical care/evaluation 
Guidelines for physician referral
  • Unknown cause of symptoms
  • Lacking objective signs/symptoms of NMS dysfunction or origin
  • Atypical or lack of expected response to interventions 
  • Changes in health status that persist beyond expected period 
  • Presentations unique to women
  • Vital sign abnormalities
  • Red flags for cancer
  • Cardiac and pulmonary abnormalities
  • Precautions and contraindications to treatment 
Pain assessment
  • Sources of pain
    • Cutaneous, somatic, visceral, neuropathic, referred
  • Associated signs/symptoms of systemic vs musculoskeletal pain
  • Pain types
    • Tension, inflammatory, ischemic, myofascial, joint, radicular, neuropathic 
  • Pain referral patterns
    • Somatic, visceral, neuropathic 

Target Audience

  • Physical Therapists
  • Physical Therapy Assistants
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Strength and Conditioning Specialists
  • Exercise Physiologists

Copyright : 04/29/2021

Lower Extremity Differential Diagnosis: Maximizing Evaluation Efficiently and Optimize Patient Outcomes

Getting the diagnosis right the first time is critical, and as the first point of contact for evaluating the injury, it can be stressful.  Not every diagnosis is straight forward.  With subtle clues often lurking in the periphery, you need a comprehensive evaluation strategy that eliminates the guess work.  

Rina Pandya, DPT is bringing decades of clinical experience to present a practical approach to differential diagnosis for the lower extremity.  You’ll learn the tried and true methods for quickly narrowing in on the most probable cause and identify if the patient is appropriate for physical therapy.  With implications across the age spectrum for all the patients you may face, you’ll discover:

  • How to spot stress fractures that often mimic a sprain 
  • A framework for understanding how various chronic conditions may impact your findings
  • Why you need to be able to identify PAD if you work with older adults
  • A Concise guide to physician referral for suspicion of systemic disease involvement. 

This course will provide you extensive medical and therapy evaluation skills that will streamline your ability to perform review of systems and identify signs and symptoms of systemic diseases early in the evaluation - saving time and resources for your patients!

Program Information


  1. Apply knowledge of evaluation strategies for hip knee, ankle-foot joint clinically for identification of musculoskeletal injuries. 
  2. Determine red and yellow flags requiring referral to a physician .
  3. Differentiate between systemic or musculoskeletal diagnoses for indications when to refer to emergency services. 
  4. Demonstrate skilled patient interviewing techniques with system review questions. 
  5. Apply knowledge of differential diagnosis proficiently in clinical practice.
  6. Demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving for complex musculoskeletal diagnoses.


Expand Your Evaluation Skills

  • Common special tests of the hip, knee, ankle and foot
  • Questionnaires for subjective assessment
  • Identify referred pain patterns from non-MSK origin
  • Understanding Non-MSK Causes and Customized Approaches for Each
    • Oncologic 
    • Urologic
    • Infections and inflammatory
    • GI
    • Vascular

Is Your Patient Appropriate for Therapy?

  • Recognizing red (and yellow) flags of lower quadrant pain
  • Concise guide for physician or ER referral 

Pain and Most Common MSK Diagnoses by Region

  • HIP
    • IT band syndrome
    • Hip osteoarthritis
    • Patellofemoral syndrome
    • Hip bursitis
    • Hip fracture
    • Iliopsoas bursitis
    • Iliopectineal bursitis
    • Femoroacetabular impingement
    • Snapping hip syndrome
    • Piriformis syndrome
    • Groin pain
    • Nerve entrapment in the hip 
    • Neuralgia paresthetica
    • Patellofemoral pain
    • Tibial plateau fractures
    • Knee ligament injuries
    • Ankle joint and ligament testing
    • Lateral ankle sprain
    • Tibial plateau fracture
    • Ankle instability

Target Audience

  • Physical Therapist
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Chiropractor
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Strength and Conditioning Specialists
  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Other healthcare and rehabilitation specialists

Copyright : 10/08/2021