There is a test being developed to diagnose osteoarthritis early. It is important to diagnose osteoarthritis as quickly as possible as the earlier you start managing the condition the better the long term outlook is.
The problem is that many types of arthritis have very similar signs and symptoms. When you get over 50 the chances are that it will be osteoarthritis but is important to make sure.
Current Method used to Diagnose Osteoarthritis.
At the moment in the early stages to diagnose osteoarthritis Doctors simply rule out other types of arthritis. X-rays are not a good diagnostic tool as cartilage cannot be seen and so the joint has to be quite worn before it shows as a reduction in the space between the bones.
The only way to absolutely diagnose osteoarthritis in it’s early stage is by arthroscope (keyhole surgery) to have a look about or MRI (not CT which shows bone better than cartilage).
Key hole surgery has several problems.
♦ It often leaves tunnels of scar tissue going from the surface deep into the joint. Scar tissue like this will decrease the joint function further.
♦ It’s OK on big joint like hips and knees but what about the hands?
♦ It’s quite expensive and is usually not considered worth it.
MRI is prohibitively expensive and most insurers and health care providers consider it unnecessary to diagnose osteoarthritis. After all osteoarthritis isn’t life threatening so is low on the list of priorities unless you have to live with it of course!
Live Science has reported on a new test to diagnose osteoarthritis early.
A quick biopsy of joint tissue could be all that’s needed to identify early stage arthritis, thanks to a new study of markers in the joint fluid associated with the disease.
“With this biomarker test, we can study the levels of specific proteins that we now know are associated with osteoarthritis,” study researcher James Cook, of the University of Missouri, said in a statement. “Not only does the test have the potential to help predict future arthritis, but it also tells us about the early mechanisms of arthritis, which will lead to better treatments in the future.”
A biopsy needle is much thinner than arthroscope. Most GP’s will be able to do this, making the test to diagnose osteoarthritis much cheaper and less invasive for the patient. That means the current method to diagnose osteoarthritis using sign and symptoms will be less hit and miss.
This is good news. To be able to diagnose osteoarthritis early will mean people will be able to start managing their condition earlier, making the long term prognosis better.
It is important Doctors do not simply diagnose osteoarthritis
Often Doctors simply tell us it’s our age and what do we expect? Then they prescribe some painkillers which only mask our body’s protective mechanism of preventing further damage to the joint i.e. the pain.
The use of exercises and supplements, especially in the early stages, has been shown to be highly effective at managing the current pain and stiffness. They can also slow the rate of degeneration. Therefore this new test to diagnose osteoarthritis is important news.
Click here to find out more about why exercises help and what types of exercises you should do and like us on Facebook to keep up to date with all the latest treatments for osteoarthritis.