Osteoarthritis usually progresses slowly over a period of months to years. There are some warning signs of osteoarthritis:

  • Initially, joint pain is triggered only by high impact activities. Later on, pain is triggered by ordinary activities.
  • The joint may be stiff when you wake up in the morning. This stiffness usually last about 15-20 minutes.
  • You may experience some swelling in the joints and loss of flexibility or strength.
  • The joints may have a ‘creaking’ sound when it is moved.

If you have signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis, make an appointment with your doctor. The doctor will ask questions about your medical history and perform a physical exam and, possibly, take X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

Physical examination
During the physical examination, the doctor will examine the effected joint – checking for tenderness, swelling or redness, and for range of motion in the joint.

Doctor may take X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. Cartilage loss is revealed in an X-ray by a narrowing of the space between the bones in the joint. An X-ray may also show bone spurs around a joint.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
MRI is able to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.

Blood test
Although Osteoarthritis is unable to be detected using blood test, a blood test may help to rule out other causes such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Joint fluid analysis
Doctor may use a needle to draw fluid out of the affected joint. Examining and testing the fluid from your joint can determine if there is an inflammation or the pain is caused by gout or an infection.


  1. Arthritis Foundation Malaysia Publication
  2. Arthritis Foundation, USA