1 AnswerIn addition to X-rays, CT scans, and/or MRIs, your doctor might order blood tests to help rule out infection, types of arthritis other than osteoarthritis, cancer, and other problems. Most people with straightforward signs and symptoms of arthritis may not require more than an X-ray. However, your physician will make that determination in order to help ensure that a more serious underlying disorder does not go undiagnosed and untreated.
1 AnswerThe degree of severity of arthritis on an X-ray often does not correlate with symptoms. A person with a terrible looking X-ray of the knee may be completely symptom-free. Likewise, a person who shows minimal arthritis on an X-ray may be experiencing severe pain. This does not mean that one person is stoic and the other is a complainer. Different people have higher or lower thresholds for pain, depending on their body biochemistry and the synapses within their brain. Many factors influence the pain threshold in a given individual, including social support, depression, painful stimuli, and other potential biochemical and neuromodulating factors.
Someone who has severe cartilage degeneration may not have reached the point where the surrounding structures have become irritated and inflamed. If only cartilage is involved, there will be no pain because cartilage doesn't have any nerve endings. By contrast, the person with minimal X-ray findings of cartilage degeneration may just be unlucky enough to have the cartilage degrade in a pattern that allows pressure to be placed on the surrounding structures, leading to irritation and inflammation. Perhaps the synovium was already inflamed, or perhaps the bone was already compensating for increased pressure, and a tiny bone spur hooked a piece of the joint capsule or irritated a ligament.
1 AnswerAlthough there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and proper management are important, particularly for inflammatory types of arthritis. Early use of disease-modifying drugs can change the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, which may include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints, see your doctor and begin appropriate management of your condition.
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1 AnswerThe presence of asymptomatic findings of arthritis on an X-ray should be taken as a warning that the joint is not healthy and will probably become painful if you don't start taking better care of it.
A person with no clinical symptoms and X-ray findings of arthritis should be treated in the same way as someone with no symptoms and no X-ray findings. Both should eat right, exercise, and take the appropriate supplements. The key difference is that the person with X-ray findings may be at greater risk of developing symptoms sooner, and should take preventative measures as soon as possible. Routine screening with X-rays to look for arthritis damage is definitely not indicated because they expose the patient to unnecessary radiation and are costly.
Noticing signs of arthritis on X-ray should prompt a greater sense of urgency for the patient to take steps to reduce the risk of developing worsening arthritis, which likely will eventually lead to pain and suffering if it is not appropriately managed.
1 AnswerDr. Thomas P. San Giovanni, MD , Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South FloridaIn the foot, arthritis most frequently occurs in the big toe, although it is also often found in the midfoot and ankle. A doctor can usually diagnose arthritis based on symptoms and standard x-rays.
1 AnswerDr. Christopher W. Hodgkins, MD , Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South FloridaIn order to diagnose arthritis of the midfoot, the doctor will examine your foot and may order imaging studies. Weight-bearing x-rays can demonstrate loss of joint space in the midfoot joints, which is characteristic of arthritis.
1 AnswerX-rays are more than sufficient for diagnosing arthritis. They can show bone spurs (osteophytes), subchondral cysts (the fluid-filled cysts that sometimes occur beneath the hardened bone), and joint space narrowing (the most classic finding in arthritis of the knee). As the cartilage degenerates, the bones move closer and closer together until they actually grind into each other. X-rays can mark this progression, although hopefully measures will be taken to slow or halt the progression once it is identified.
1 AnswerDr. Christopher W. Hodgkins, MD , Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
To diagnose big toe arthritis, your doctor will examine your foot for range of motion and gait analysis. X-ray evaluation is important to determine the amount of joint narrowing and bone spur formation in the joint.
3 AnswersNatural Medicines answered
Osteoarthritis: X-rays are often the first test performed if a patient has symptoms of osteoarthritis. If the patient has osteoarthritis, the X-ray images will often show loss of cartilage in the affected joints, narrowing of the space between bones, and bumps called nodules.
A procedure called arthrocentesis may also be performed at a healthcare provider's office. During the procedure, a needle is inserted into the affected joint and a small sample of fluid is removed. The fluid is then analyzed to rule out other conditions, such as gout or infection. This test may also temporarily relieve some pain and inflammation in the joint.
A surgical procedure called arthroscopy may also be performed. During the surgery, a small incision is made into the affected joint. Then a tube called an arthroscope is inserted into the joint. This tube has a small light and camera, which allow the healthcare provider to see the inside of the joint. If abnormalities such as cartilage or ligament damage are seen, the patient is diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis: A blood test may be performed to determine if an antibody called the rheumatoid factor is present. Most patients with rheumatoid arthritis eventually have this abnormal protein in their blood. However, it may not present when symptoms first develop. If rheumatoid factor is present, a positive diagnosis is made. If patients test negative but rheumatoid arthritis is suspected, a healthcare provider may recommend treatment to reduce symptoms. Another test may be performed in the future to confirm a diagnosis.
Periarthritis: Periarthritis is usually diagnosed after a healthcare provider takes a detailed medical history and performs a physical examination. The affected joint will have very limited mobility. In some cases, an X-ray may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. During the procedure, a contrast dye is injected into the affected joint and X-rays are taken. If the patient has periarthritis, the joint will appear shrunken and scarred.
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