Table of Contents
- 1 Osteoarthritis Diagnosis is not as complicated as it sounds
- 1.1 Historical and symptoms assessment of the patient
- 1.2 Conducting a physical examination
- 1.3 Imaging Test
- 1.4 Lab testing
Osteoarthritis Diagnosis is not as complicated as it sounds
Osteoarthritis Diagnosis is however not as straight forward as one would hope. Even with the existence of symptoms associated with Osteoarthritis, the physician has to exam the patient very well to determine if he/she has Osteoarthritis. A good Osteoarthritis Diagnosis consists of utilizing a combination of physical assessment, lab testing and assessing the medical history and family history of the patient.
Historical and symptoms assessment of the patient
The information that the physician will be interested in when performing Osteoarthritis Diagnosis includes:
- The signs and symptoms description such as pain, stiffness, numbness
- Information on how and when the sign and symptom started.
- Description of where the symptoms are felt
- The effect of the symptoms on the day to day activities of the patient
- The family history of arthritis-related disorders
- Other medical condition that the patient is having.
- The current medication that the patient is using
Conducting a physical examination
The doctor will physically examine the affected joint through gently moving the affected region. The examination will be on how each of the affected joint move through its full range and any abnormalities in the movements. The symptoms that will be assessed relate t0 joint damage, swollen, painful or tender areas. They are vital in Osteoarthritis Diagnosis.
What is the Doctor is Looking for during a Physical Examination for Osteoarthritis?
The physical examination looks for evidence of:
- Mild to moderate firm swelling around the joint
- Crepitus on movement. This is that crunching feeling, like the sound of bone rubbing on bone. If you have a “noisy knee” that is crepitus.
- Limited range of motion, the joint can’t flex as far as it once did.
- Pain with movement of the joint (especially towards the end of its range of motion)
- Joint tenderness
- Mild inflammation and warmth over the joint
Other physical evidence that points to osteoarthritis includes:
- Weakness of muscles surrounding the affected joint
- Tenderness of structures surrounding the joint
- Joint instability (with advanced osteoarthritis)
- Joint deformity, such as bony enlargement (with advanced osteoarthritis)
- Bony lumps, especially on the fingers
- Unequal leg lengths
- Altered walking gait
After evaluating the signs and symptoms of the patient, imaging test can be recommended to provide more details about the joint and for accurate Osteoarthritis Diagnosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- The test utilizes the radio waves and magnetic fields to produce detailed images of the joints parts that include the soft tissues and the bone structure such as the cartilage. This test is not a requirement of the diagnosis of Osteoarthritis, but it is a good test to increase the visualization of the joint especially in complex situations. The test is however very expensive as compared to the other tests of Osteoarthritis.
X-rays- The x- ray is one of the most common diagnosis tools of Osteoarthritis. The x-ray image visualizes the joint structure, but it does not capture the soft tissues such as the cartilage. The x-ray can enable the physician to visualize the bone shapes and spurs. The reduction of cartilage layer is diagnosed through evaluating the reduced size between the bones at the joint. In some rare cases, the Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed in a patient through x-ray even before they experience the common symptoms and signs of Osteoarthritis.
Sometimes extra lab testing is required for accurate Osteoarthritis Diagnosis:
Joint fluid analysis
It is also referred to as joint aspiration. The doctor extracts the joint fluid using a needle after numbing the joint. The analysis and testing of the fluid will determine if there is an inflammation or not and if infection causes the disease or not. The test helps in ruling out that other diseases or medical condition of the joint.
Blood test does not show or used to test for Osteoarthritis directly. The test which mostly looks for rheumatoid factor and other diseases is used to eliminate the possibility that the pain of the joint is caused by other causes such as Rheumatoid arthritis.