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.
When to seek treatment for your arthritis
Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of only two surgery centers nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More articles on managing arthritis
- Ask Dr. Hansen: How Do You Approach Arthritis Pain Treatment?
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- What Is The Best Age For A Hip Replacement?
A hip replacement is often viewed as a procedure for elderly patients. We explain why hip function—and not patient age—is a better way to evaluate when to consider a hip replacement. Read more…
Additional resources for you
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.