Diagnosing Arthritis [Video]
Ask the Expert: Arthritis Video Series
About the video: How does the doctor diagnose arthritis?
Listen to Summit Orthopedics’ experts explain the steps in the process when diagnosing arthritis in patients. Featuring arthritis specialists, Peter Daly, MD, and Kristoffer Breien, MD.
About Dr. Peter Daly
Dr. Daly’s approach: “I understand the concern of athletes to get back to their sport. And I work in combination with our therapists to get them fully active.”
Dr. Daly’s education: Dr. Daly received his undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and continued to Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN for his medical degree. Following his residency at the Orthopedic Surgery Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, he received advanced specialization training in the Rowe Shoulder Fellowship at Harvard University, Boston, MA.
About Dr. Kris Breien
Dr. Breien’s approach: “I tend to be more conservative in my approach, reserving surgery as a last option. In essence, I strive to care for patients and their problems in the same manner my family and I expect to be treated when we seek medical attention.”
Dr. Breien’s education: Dr. Breien received his undergraduate degree at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. He went to Creighton University for medical school and his residency at Creighton-Nebraska University Health Foundation in Omaha, Nebraska.
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Kristoffer Breien, M.D.: The diagnosis is a combination of exam, X-ray, and history. You’ll tell us that my knee has been hurting. It hurts all the time. You tell us your hip hurts, your elbow hurts, you tell us that you have pain that is under emitting or that it continues, it keeps ongoing. It really doesn’t go away. It may have good days and bad days, but it’s persistent. Those are historical things. In terms of the exam, we’ll do the same thing. We’ll look at the joint that’s affected and if it’s swollen, that’s definitely a sign something is going on. Sometimes when we bend the knee or the hip, we can hear a grinding noise. Again, that’s a sign that we’re running out of cartilage or that the padding of the joint is being worn away. Those are all physical exam findings. Lastly, we get X-rays. We don’t need an MRI usually, generally X-rays are sufficient. We get an X-ray and we look at it and we’ll see that the joint is different. If you look at a normal joint compared to an arthritic joint, the normal joint, the bones will be smooth. They’ll have nice spaces between them that are filled with cartilage padding and in a diseased or an arthritic joint, we’ll see that the bones are often times touching.
Peter Daly, M.D.: Then we take those pieces of the puzzle, which includes the historical details that the patient gives me, what their exam is like, and what their X-ray looks like. There’s multiple pieces to the puzzle that allows me to try to come to a final diagnosis and tell the patient if they have arthritis and what type of arthritis they have. It might be inflammatory, it might be degenerative, it might be post-traumatic. There’s a number of different categories.