How are x-rays used to diagnose knee and hip problems?

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Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
A standard x-ray, the most commonly used imaging technique, gives a two-dimensional picture of the bones in your joints. X-rays can show bone fractures, spurs, loose fragments, dislocation, reduced space between bones, and bone damage from arthritis. But standard x-rays don't show cartilage, ligaments, or tendons; seeing these requires more sophisticated imaging techniques. For a standard x-ray of the knee, you may be asked to lie down or stand while a technician takes several views with your knee in different positions. For a hip x-ray, you will probably be asked to lie down. Even if only one knee or hip causes you problems, your doctor may order x-rays of both to compare the appearance of the joint and joint space.

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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.