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What Are The First Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis & How Do Doctors Check For It?

Osteoarthritis is a disease in which the cartilage of the joints is mainly worn away due to the effects of aging, causing severe pain in the affected joint. As the illness progresses, the pain tends to increase and it has a great impact on daily life.(1)

What Are The First Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis?

What Are The First Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis?

Pain is one of the main complaints (mainly symptoms) of patients who are undergoing medical treatment for knee osteoarthritis. Since this disease is progressive, there are many cases in which the patient feels uncomfortable at the beginning and when they start walking, but gradually gets worse as the disease progresses. It is not uncommon for swelling and puddle to occur at the first visit. There may be pain around the joint, swelling, a feeling of catching, or a feeling of strangeness. Generally, the more you progress, the more pain you get, but there are various symptoms such as those with severe pain even at the beginning and those with no pain at all.

  • Joint pain in daily activities
  • Joint discomfort/stiffness
  • Difficulty in bending and stretching
  • Swollen joints and ringing sound.(2)

The knee is the most prone to osteoarthritis. The frequency of onset increases with age. If you overuse your knees, the tendons and muscles around your knees will stretch and you will feel pain when you start walking. If you continue to strain the knee for many years, inflammation will occur due to gradual degeneration of the articular cartilage and meniscus that absorb the impact on the knee, causing swelling and heat, and water on the knee.

When inflammation becomes chronic, the joint capsule becomes hard and does not function properly, making it difficult to bend and stretch the knee. When the articular cartilage is worn away, the bones will hit each other when standing up, going up and down the stairs, and pain will occur.

People whose knees are overloaded due to obesity or who overuse their knees in intense sports tend to have an earlier onset. Also, the flexibility of articular cartilage will be lost with age.(3)

How Do Doctors Check For Osteoarthritis?

Based on the above symptoms, age, and medical history, doctors most commonly suspect osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis is based on osteophyte formation by X-ray (radiograph) photography, narrowing of joint space, hardening of subchondral bone, and disappearance of joint space. Especially in the case of multiple lesions, blood tests rule out the presence of inflammatory reactions and rheumatic lesions, and if necessary, type 2 collagen, MMP (matrix metalloprotease), TIMP (metalloprotease inhibitor), COMP (cartridge). Osteoarthritis markers such as oligomeric matrix protein) are used as an auxiliary diagnosis.(4)

Prevention And Treatment Of Osteoarthritis

The onset of arthrosis progresses due to cartilage abrasion due to overuse, weight-bearing, and trauma against the background of various genetic factors. However, cartilage wear does not always cause symptoms. Therefore, it is often the case that a diagnosis is made only after symptoms occur.

For this reason, joints with a high frequency of Osteoarthritis, such as the hip and knee joints, which have a large ADL disorder when they become more severe, and which require surgical treatment at times, require a regular diagnosis to prevent progression.

Appropriate measures are to be taken at the discretion of a specialist such as a doctor or a physiotherapist. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a progressive disease that does not heal once. Even if you make a self-judgment and the symptoms temporarily improve, it does not mean it got healed.

For those who have already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee, it is a precondition to prevent the progression of the disease by first receiving relief and consent before receiving treatment. If you have a doctor you can trust, it will give you peace of mind, and it may affect the effectiveness of your treatment to some extent.

To prevent the deterioration of Osteoarthritis, it is necessary to improve the workload and obesity, control the amount of work, and control arthritis.

It is also important to maintain the flexibility around joints and the strength of the surrounding muscles as a functional treatment.(5)


  1. de Meneses SF, Rannou F, Hunter DJ. Osteoarthritis guidelines: Barriers to implementation and solutions. Annals of physical and rehabilitation medicine. 2016;59(3):170-173.
  2. Buldu MT, Marsh JL, Arbuthnot J. Mechanical symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knee and arthroscopy. The journal of knee surgery. 2016;29(05):396-402.
  3. Chen D, Shen J, Zhao W, et al. Osteoarthritis: toward a comprehensive understanding of pathological mechanism. Bone research. 2017;5(1):1-13.
  4. Clarson L, Nicholl B, Bishop A, Daniel R, Mallen C. Discussing prognosis with patients with osteoarthritis: a cross-sectional survey in general practice. Clinical rheumatology. 2016;35(4):1011-1017.
  5. Newberry SJ, FitzGerald J, SooHoo NF, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: an update review. 2017.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 16, 2020

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