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Osteoarthritis health centre

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Osteoarthritis tests

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

There is no single definitive test to diagnose osteoarthritis.

A doctor will ask about symptoms, such as joint pain, as well as discuss possible causes of the symptoms, or risk factors, such as work or sports.

An examination will be performed. During this the doctor will be looking for bony enlargements - Heberden's nodes, Bouchard's nodes and bunions on the feet as part of the diagnosis.

Blood tests and other tests may be arranged to help rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.

Osteoarthritis scans

X-rays and MRI scans help to:

  • Rule out injuries or other joint conditions
  • Check joint structures and damage
  • Take a snapshot of current joint damage for comparison at later appointments to look for disease progression.

Arthroscopyis a surgical technique whereby a doctor inserts a special tubular instrument called an arthroscope into the joint space. This helps detect any abnormalities or damage to cartilage and ligaments and helps with an osteoarthritis diagnosis. Some minor repairs can be made using this technique with a shorter recovery time than with open surgery.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 12, 2016

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