Your physician may begin by asking you to describe your symptoms, and when and how the condition started. Your physician can give a better assessment if you give a good description of pain, stiffness and joint function, and how these symptoms changed over time. It also is important for your physician to know how the condition is affecting your work and daily life. Finally, your physician needs to know about other medical conditions and whether you are taking any medicines.
X-rays may show such things as cartilage loss, bone damage and bone spurs. There is often a big difference between the severity of osteoarthritis that the X-ray shows and the degree of pain and disability you have. X-rays may not show early osteoarthritis damage before much cartilage loss has taken place.