Do not wait. It is very important that once you begin to experience osteoarthritis symptoms, you see a doctor, get a proper diagnosis, and start treatment right away. Many factors influence which therapies are right for you, including the status of your health, other medications you take, and if your osteoarthritis case is mild, moderate, or severe. The earlier you and your doctor work together, the sooner you can begin a treatment plan that’s right for you.
There are usually four steps to making a diagnosis of osteoarthritis:
- Medical history. This is your doctor’s best tool to diagnosing osteoarthritis. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, family history, and past medical conditions.
- Physical exam. Your doctor will look for typical signs of osteoarthritis, such as joint swelling or tenderness, and a loss in the range of joint motion.
- Joint fluid sample. After applying a local anesthetic, your doctor may take a small amount of fluid from your joint, called synovial fluid. A lab test of this fluid can help confirm osteoarthritis and rule out other conditions.
- X-rays or MRIs. These images can show damage inside the joint. Your doctor will be looking for the deterioration of cartilage tissue that is typical of osteoarthritis.