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Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

If you think you have osteoarthritis, it is important that you make an appointment with your GP so they can carry out a full diagnosis and decide on the necessary treatment based on your symptoms.

When your GP carries out an examination of your joints, they will check for:

  • Tenderness in the joints
  • Creaking or grating sounds (crepitus)
  • Swelling or bony protrusions
  • Lack of movement
  • Instability in the joints
  • Muscle wasting

If osteoarthritis is not clear from your GP’s initial examination, there are a number of tests that can be carried out:

A GP will be able to carry out an examination

Blood Tests

Although there is no set blood test to determine whether you have osteoarthritis, they can be used to rule out any other types of arthritis.

X-rays

X-rays are the most commonly used test to determine osteoarthritis because they are useful for seeing any changes to joints, such as osteophytes (bony protrusions) or reduced space between the bones, or check for accumulation of calcium.

An x-ray will allow a consultant to identify any changes to your knee joint

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans

An MRI scan cannot be used to check directly for osteoarthritis, but it can be used to check for soft tissue damage (cartilage, tendons, muscles) and bone changes that cannot be picked up on an X-ray. This can, however, determine and rule out any other joint or bone problems.

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