Diagnosis and tests of Osteoarthritis

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Standing doctor pointing at a notepad with a clinical history

Clinical history and physical examination. The physical examination is used to detect the presence of any pain on moving the joint and, occasionally the degree of swelling and joint effusion. In advanced stages, the joint is deformed and makes creaking noises (crepitation) when it moves.

Blood collection tube

Laboratory data. Osteoarthritis does produce significant changes in the blood analyses. However, they can occasionally be useful to exclude other rheumatic diseases. The joint fluid has mainly mechanical characteristics, that is to say, almost clear and does not contain cells.

Person having a chest X-ray done

Radiography. The use of x-rays is essential to confirm the diagnosis. The radiological signs of osteoarthritis are very characteristic: growth of the bone that protrudes from the joint (osteophytes); reduction in the joint space and an increase in density (sclerosis) of the adjacent bone.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI machine

Additional examinations. On rare occasions, other additional examinations need to be performed, such as ultrasound or a magnetic resonance scan, etc. When they are used routinely, it is to rule out other causes that affect the joints, such as arthritis or infections.

Substantiated information by:

Ana Isabel Monegal Brancos
Anna Martín Cortés
Felipe Julio Ramirez Garcia
Jenaro A. Fernández-Valencia Laborde
Nuria Sapena Fortea
Rosa Marina Fernandez

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 12 December 2023

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