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How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosis Made?

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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 utilising a combination of physical, lab and historical assessment of the patient.

Historical And Symptoms Assessment Of The Patients

The information that the physician will be interested when doing Osteoarthritis Diagnosis in 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

Physical exam

The doctor will assess physically the joint closely 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 signs that will be being assessed joint damage, swollen, painful or tender areas. They are vital in Osteoarthritis Diagnosis.

Imaging Test

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 utilises 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 visualisation 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 visualises the joint structure, but it does not capture the soft tissues such as the cartilage. The x-ray can enable the physician to visualise 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.

Lab Tests

Sometimes, the extra lab test 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 tests- 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.

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