How is osteoarthritis of the knee diagnosed?
Your doctor will make a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee based on your symptoms and an examination. During the examination, they’ll check for:
- tenderness over your knee
- creaking and grating (crepitus)
- bony swelling
- excess fluid
- restricted movement
- instability of your knee
- thinning of the muscles that support your knee.
What tests are there for osteoarthritis of the knee?
X-rays are the most useful tests to confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, although they won’t often be needed. X-rays may show changes such as osteophytes, narrowing of the space between bones and calcium deposits within your joint.
X-rays aren’t a good indicator of how much pain or disability you’re likely to have – some people have a lot of pain from minor joint damage but others have little pain from severe damage.
Your doctor may suggest you have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on your knee, which will show the soft tissues (e.g. cartilage, tendons, muscles) and changes in the bone that can’t be seen on a standard x-ray. This is quite rare though.
There’s no blood test for osteoarthritis but they can be used to rule out other conditions.