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What screening methods are used to diagnose osteoarthritis?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Catching osteoarthritis early can prevent it from getting worse, so doctors often screen their older patients by checking for:

• The amount of pain and inflammation in a joint

• Range of motion -- how far the joint can be moved in any direction
  before it hurts

• Muscle strength around the painful joint

• Swelling or tenderness around the joint

• Your gait and alignment and changes in the way you walk

Based on how many of these symptoms you have and how severe they are, your doctor will have a better idea of whether osteoarthritis is in your future, and what to prescribe to relieve the pain, the inflammation, and for rehabilitation and strengthening the muscles surrounding that joint.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
We don't have a specific test that diagnoses osteoarthritis (OA). X-rays and other imaging tests can see if the painful joint is narrowed or has bone spurs, and blood tests can rule out other possible causes of the joint pain, such as an infection or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But generally, OA is diagnosed not by looking at test results but by looking at your symptoms such as pain, swelling and stiffness in the joint.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.