1. Health

Osteoarthritis Symptoms / Diagnosis


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Early diagnosis and early treatment of osteoarthritis helps to manage joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
  1. Recognizing Early Symptoms
  2. Painful Joints
  3. Getting Diagnosed With Osteoarthritis
  1. Osteoarthritis Risk Factors
  2. Consulting a Doctor
  3. Quizzes About Osteoarthritis

Recognizing Early Symptoms

Photo by Peter Nguyen (iStockphoto)

Early osteoarthritis symptoms typically involve a single joint. When only one joint is affected, the condition is referred to as monoarthritis. As symptoms first appear, it's important to distinguish joint pain and swelling caused by osteoarthritis from similar symptoms associated with other types of arthritis.

Painful Joints

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but the disease is more common in certain joints. The hips and knees are the next most common sites of osteoarthritis and are almost always symptomatic. The first metatarsal phalangeal (great toe) and carpometacarpal joints of the hand also are common sites of osteoarthritis observed on x-ray. The shoulder, elbow, wrist, and metacarpophalangeal joints of the hand are rare sites of osteoarthritis unless related to injury or trauma. Learn more about osteoarthritis in specific joints.

Getting Diagnosed With Osteoarthritis

Photo by Annett Vauteck (iStockphoto)

When diagnosing osteoarthritis, the doctor must first differentiate osteoarthritis from other types of arthritis. It is also important to determine whether a patient has primary osteoarthritis or a secondary form of osteoarthritis associated with another disease or condition. Early, accurate diagnosis of osteoarthritis is necessary so that appropriate treatment options can be considered.

Osteoarthritis Risk Factors


Not all people who have osteoarthritis evident on x-ray develop symptomatic osteoarthritis. This fact has made defining osteoarthritis risk factors more difficult. Learning about known risk factors for osteoarthritis may lower your chance of developing the disease. Some of the risk factors are controllable but others are not.

Consulting a Doctor

Photo by Annett Vauteck (iStockphoto)

A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in arthritis and related diseases. Most often, a patient is referred to a rheumatologist or orthopedic surgeon by their primary care physician after presenting symptoms of arthritis. It's important that you feel you can communicate well with your doctor or specialist. You must be able to ask questions, understand your doctor's advice, and feel that the doctor is available and reachable.

Quizzes About Osteoarthritis

Can you recognize symptoms of osteoarthritis? Do you know about medications and treatments used for osteoarthritis? Do you know if you have the risk factors for osteoarthritis? We'll be building this section up with more quizzes about all aspects of osteoarthritis.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.