Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis

The best way to manage your OA symptoms is by getting diagnosed and starting treatment early.

If you think you have OA, see a doctor promptly. If you know you have the disease—but haven't seen a rheumatologist in a while—please make an appointment.

In the exam room, your doctor may start by asking about your medical history and your symptoms. Be sure to talk about any pain and stiffness you are experiencing.

Your doctor will also likely perform a physical exam and check your joints for signs of damage. To determine the type of arthritis you have or investigate damage more closely, your doctor may order a blood test, x-rays and/or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

He or she may also aspirate a damaged joint by using a fine needle to draw out fluid, which is then examined for crystals or evidence of joint damage.