BBJ Osteoarthritis - For Clinicians



Identifying Osteoarthritis

The key investigations for osteoarthritis are a full history and examination. The important features of the musculoskeletal history are assessment of pain and function from the affected joint. This detail can also be assessed with specific questionnaires. The examination is joint specific but for the most part involves an assessment of the swelling around the joint, tenderness around the joint line and restriction of range of movement.

Identifying Osteoarthritis

For more information, including video on joint examination techniques visit:
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust


Arthritis Research UK

Osteoarthritis Baseline Investigations

The most common investigation for osteoarthritis is a plain radiograph of a joint. This will be reported by a radiologist and will guide further investigations. MRI scans are rarely required to diagnose arthritis but can be useful in the very early stages of disease to assess minor cartilage damage and ligament injuries. USS can be used to assess soft tissue pain and swelling but is not generally used to assess osteoarthritis.

For more information on investigation for osteoarthritis visit:
Arthritis Research UK 

Osteoarthritis Treatment

Once the diagnosis has been made a full management plan can be established. The initial treatment of osteoarthritis is non-operative and can be started in the community. It is important that patients are educated about osteoarthritis and the options for managing their symptoms. Early interventions include; analgesia, simple orthotics, physiotherapy, weight loss, complimentary medicine and steroid injections.

For more information on treatment visit:

Arthritis Research UK

Osteoarthritis Referral Pathways/local Services

For further management advice and referral to secondary care contact the Musculoskeletal and Treatment Service (MATS) and the Community Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS), details can be found by visiting:

MATS service

CATS service