More Information on How Osteoarthritis Is Identified

Tests Used to Make an Osteoarthritis Diagnosis

Some tests your healthcare provider may recommend to help diagnose osteoarthritis include:
  • X-rays
  • Other tests.
Doctors take x-rays to see how much joint damage is present. X-rays of the affected joint can show things such as cartilage loss, bone damage, and bone spurs. Often, there is a big difference between the severity of osteoarthritis as shown by the x-ray and the degree of pain and disability the person feels. Also, x-rays may not show early osteoarthritis damage -- that is, damage that occurs before much cartilage loss has taken place.
Other Tests
Your doctor may order blood tests to rule out other causes of symptoms. Another common test is called joint aspiration. This test involves drawing fluid from the joint for examination.

Is the Diagnosis Osteoarthritis or Another Medical Condition?

Before making an osteoarthritis diagnosis, the healthcare provider will consider other conditions that share a number of symptoms with osteoarthritis. Some of these conditions include:
Your doctor will also try to identify conditions that may make osteoarthritis symptoms worse. The severity of your symptoms will be influenced greatly by:
  • Your attitude
  • Your anxiety level
  • Whether you have depression
  • Your daily activity level.

Final Thoughts on Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

It usually is not difficult to tell if a person has osteoarthritis. What is more difficult is determining whether the disease is causing the person's symptoms. Osteoarthritis is so common -- especially in older people -- that symptoms that seem to be caused by the disease can actually be due to other medical conditions.
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