Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common forms of arthritis in the knee. Simply put, it is a degenerative “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis that is primarily age-dependent, but it is also becoming increasingly common in a relatively younger age-group due to lack of nutritious diet and a stressful lifestyle.

X-ray to check for osteoarthritis in your knee

If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned below, your doctor may recommend an oa knee X-ray to find out if osteoarthritis is the cause.

  • Extreme pain while moving or doing any physical activity but the pain subsides while taking rest
  • Swelling in and around the knee joint, going up to the ankle
  • A warm sensation in the joints
  • Tenderness around the knee cap area
  • Difficulty in freely moving your leg due to stiffness in knee, if you have been in the same position for a long time
  • Acute stiffness and difficulty in straightening your leg in the morning or while stepping out of bed
  • A creaking or cracking sound heard whenever the knee joint moves or bends

Is knee x-ray osteoarthritis painful?

X-rays can be helpful in diagnosing the problem of osteoarthritis as it helps determine the characteristic appearance of the affected joints. They are painless, easy to perform and the most dependable way of knowing the exact amount of damage done to the knees.  Some of the things that can be quickly determined with the help of knee x-ray for osteoarthritis are:

  • If the bones are appearing closer to each other
  • If there are any cysts that have been formed in the cavities of the bones
  • If there are any uneven joints or increased bone density that could be causing friction in the affected area

How to prepare for knee x-ray osteoarthritis?

To get an X-ray of your knee, you would be asked to go to an X-ray imaging lab where a radiologist or an X-ray technician can take your X-ray. They would develop a detailed image of your bone structure with an x-ray for a better view of what might be affecting your joint area.

Your radiologist might ask you to remove clothing covering the knees, so that nothing blocks the X-rays from taking a fully detailed image.

Also, if you’re wearing any metal objects, say, for example, glasses or jewelry, your radiologist will most likely ask you to remove them so that they don’t appear on the X-ray image. You can also inform them well in advance if you are wearing any metal objects so that they know how to interpret the object on the X-ray.

If you’re of childbearing age, you can be asked to take a pregnancy test.

Note: If you’re pregnant, your radiologist may not permit you to have an X-ray taken in order to keep the fetus safe. He might recommend an ultrasound or other imaging technique to find out the exact issue.

Procedure for an oa knee x-ray

The radiologist will take you to a separate room before the x-ray. Others accompanying you might be asked to leave the room so that they can stay away from any kind of radiation.

You would then be asked to stand, sit, or lie down in a position that would allow the X-ray machine to capture the best possible image of your knee joint. You can feel slight discomfort depending on your position, but you’ll be given a pillow to minimize your discomfort. Also, to keep the rest of your body away from radiations, you might be also be given clothing to wear.

Once you’re in the correct position and have taken all the necessary precautions, you’ll be asked to stay still until the X-ray procedure is complete. Staying still could mean that you even have to hold your breath so that the result comes as effective as possible. By chance, if you move during the X-ray, you might have to repeat the procedure, because the X-ray image might come out to be too blurry.

A simple joint X-ray takes 10-15 minutes, including any repeat procedures.

How does an x-ray machine work?

The X-ray machine sends a beam of ionizing radiation via an X-ray tube. This energy passes through the body part being X-rayed and is then absorbed on film or a digital camera to create a picture. Bones and other dense areas show up as lighter shades of gray to white, whereas other areas that don’t absorb the radiation appear as dark grey to black.

Are there any risks of OA knee x ray?

You won’t feel any discomfort from the X-ray test.

They carry minimal risks of causing cancer or any other radiation side effects. But young children may be slightly sensitive to the radiation.

Osteoarthritis knee x ray findings

In most cases, X-ray imaging results are available immediately after the procedure. As per the findings of your x-rays, your doctor can refer you to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist who specializes in arthritis, for further examination.

To check for osteoarthritis in your knee, your doctor will examine the bones of your knee joint in the image for any kind of damage. They can also check the areas surrounding your knee joint’s cartilage for any joint space narrowing, or for any cartilage loss in your knee joint. Cartilage isn’t generally visible on an X-ray image, but joint space narrowing is the most significant symptom of osteoarthritis and other joint conditions in which cartilage has eroded. The less cartilage that’s left on the bone, the more severe is the case of osteoarthritis.

Your doctor can also check for other signs of osteoarthritis, which includes osteophytes —generally known as bone spurs.

What if you have osteoarthritis?

If your doctor believes that you have osteoarthritis, he would also do a joint fluid analysis to verify the cause. This involves taking fluid or blood from your knee joint with a needle, which can cause minor discomfort.

Once osteoarthritis is confirmed, your doctor might prescribe pain medications to keep your pain under control.

Your doctor might also refer you to a physiotherapist to help improve your knee’s flexibility. Physiotherapy can help strengthen the joint muscles through focused exercises and help you lead an active life. It is any day a better option than surgery and can be easily performed at home. If you are looking for knee pain management solutions, HCAH has an expert team of Kneeologists who can help you get back on your feet in no time. The only healthcare company in India to provide an advanced level three months extended training to its physiotherapists, HCAH Kneeologists are well-trained to treat a range of knee conditions and that too within the comfort of your home!

To know more, give a missed call on 1800-120-4224.

Reviewed by Dr. Gagan Kapoor

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