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Osteoarthritis - Diagnosis

How do I know I have osteoarthritis?

Examination of the painful joint and certain tests for confirming the diagnosis will help our doctors to know if you have osteoarthritis.

Physical examination of the joint can reveal:

  • Joint swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Grating of joint with motion

The investigations for confirming the diagnosis are -

X-rays: X-ray of the affected joint can exhibit a narrowing of the space within a joint. This happens due to wearing of the cartilage. Bony spurs around the affected joint can also be seen on X-rays.

Joint fluid analysis: The fluid from the affected joint is taken and tested in a laboratory, which can help in detecting any infection or the presence of gout, which can also trigger the knee pain.

Arthroscopy: A tiny camera is used for visualising the interior of the joint. During this procedure, small incisions are made around the joint and a tiny camera is placed to assess the inside of the joint and to repair any abnormality that can be found.

Blood tests are mostly not needed, except in cases where elimination of other diseases causing the joint pain is essential.

Coping with osteoarthritis

Small lifestyle alterations can be very useful in managing osteoarthritis. Living with osteoarthritis might not be easy, but giving it your best shot to lead a pain-free life is important. The goals of lifestyle changes are the same as that of medical treatment, which are :

  • Reduction of pain
  • Improvement of mobility

On the basis of our experience at Dr Batra's since the past 35 years, we have seen that some changes in diet and lifestyle are effective for managing osteoarthritis. These have been clinically assessed and thus have scientific evidence :

  • Consumption of antioxidant nutrients found in fruits and vegetables should be increased.
  • Herbs like curcumin are useful for decreasing inflammation.
  • Essential fats (such as those in flaxseeds, oily fish, walnuts) aid in managing inflammation, and should be included in diet.
  • Fresh pineapple possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Adrenal stimulants like tea, coffee, sugar and refined carbohydrates should be avoided.
  • Carbonated drinks such as coke and pepsi should be avoided because of their phosphoric
    acid content.
  • Excessive weight is a very common trigger of knee pain; thus, reducing weight if the person is obese, or maintaining it when the person is average, is important.
  • Exercising regularly strengthens the leg muscles that support the knee and these muscles absorb shock before it gets to the knee. Exercising also helps in maintaining a proper posture. However, it should be noted that exercises have to be performed under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
  • Wearing comfortable footwear, preferably cushioned ones, are helpful since they help in supporting your weight, mostly when you have osteoarthritis of your knees, hips or spine.
  • Having medicines as prescribed is important, and the patient should not wait for the pain to increase before consulting the doctor.
  • Avoid putting excessive pressure on any of your joints, and be gentle in your movements.
  • Try hot or cold compresses on the affected joint. But, avoid hot compresses in an acutely inflamed joint.
  • Splints and braces should be considered for supporting weakened joints.
  • Avoid things that can aggravate your condition. Also, note the things that provide you relief from pain and continue to follow these.