The symptoms of early stage osteoarthritis (OA) may not be noticeable to an individual. If a person experiences knee pain, the physician will ask them about their personal and family health histories.
They will then undertake a comprehensive physical exam and order diagnostic tests.
Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler, provides orthopedic surgery to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.
Diagnosis of Knee Osteoarthritis
The doctor will ask the patient the following questions:
- When and where the patient is experiencing stiffness and pain
- How this impacts their daily life
- Whether they are taking any medications
The doctor will evaluate the knee joints, test their overall range of motion, and assess for damage. They will also pay close attention to any sites that are inflamed, painful, or tender.
Joint fluid tests and MRI scans can help detect early OA signs. The doctor may undertake a joint aspiration, which involves the removal of some fluid using a needle and sending it to a lab for testing. X-rays can also indicate damage to the joint.
Blood tests can assist in ruling out other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop slowly and become worse over time. The signs and symptoms of this condition include:
- Pain: The joint may hurt during or after movement
- Tenderness: The joint may feel tender when pressure is applied to it.
- Stiffness: Joint stiffness may be most apparent when the patient wakes up in the morning or after a period of rest.
- Loss of flexibility: The patient may not be able to move their joint through its complete range of motion.
- Grating sensation: The patient may feel or hear a grating sensation with joint movement.
- Bone spurs: These are extra fragments of bone, which feel like hard lumps, and may develop around the impacted joint.
The factors that contribute to an increase in the risk of knee osteoarthritis development are:
- Older age: OA risk increases with age.
- Sex: OA is more likely to develop in women, although the reason for this is not clear.
- Obesity: Extra body weight is a contributory factor to osteoarthritis in various ways. The risk of osteoarthritis development is linked to the weight of a person as increased weight creates pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. On top of this, fat tissue generates proteins that may lead to harmful swelling in and around the joints.
- Joint injuries: The risk of osteoarthritis may increase with injuries, such as those that occur due to an accident or from playing sports. The risk of OA may increase even with injuries that may have occurred many years ago and seemingly healed.
- Certain occupations: In case the patient’s job includes tasks that place repetitive stress on a specific joint, that joint may eventually develop osteoarthritis.
- Genetics: Certain individuals inherit a tendency to develop OA.
- Bone deformities: Some individuals are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints. This can increase the risk of OA development.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that worsens over time. Stiffness and joint pain become severe enough to make even routine tasks challenging to perform. Some individuals may not be able to work any longer. Doctors may recommend knee joint replacement surgery when joint pain is this severe.
Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas for orthopedic surgery.If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.