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Pain Management: Osteoarthritis

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Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

Doctors make a diagnosis of OA based on a physical exam and history of symptoms. The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is based on a combination of the following factors:

  • A description of symptoms
  • The location and pattern of pain
  • Certain findings in a physical examination

X-rays may be used to confirm a diagnosis and to make sure that no other type of arthritis is present. 

Sometimes, blood tests are done. While blood tests cannot point to anything in particular that can help a doctor confirm the presence of OA, the tests can help the doctor determine the presence of a different type of arthritis.

If fluid has accumulated in the body's joints, the doctor may remove some of the fluid with a process called joint aspiration and may examine the fluid under a microscope to rule out other diseases.

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