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Physicians consulting a chart while a patient has an x-ray taken
Physicians consulting a chart while a patient has an x-ray taken
Physicians consulting a chart while a patient has an x-ray taken

by Joon Nah   BScPT
Registered Physiotherapist
updated July 18, 2020


It’s common to have X-rays ordered to assist in diagnosing joint pain, and your results will likely show that you have arthritis.  But is this bad news?  Usually not.

Joint wear-and-tear occurs in all of us.  This type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis and is a natural consequence of aging.  In fact, if you were to examine the X-ray results of 100 random people over the age of 40, 90% would show signs of osteoarthritis.  However, only a small fraction of this 90% would report any symptoms of pain or stiffness at these joints!

An arthritis finding on an X-ray result is only extraordinary if it is occurring sooner than it should, or if it is an inflammatory type such as rheumatoid arthritis or a spondylitis.

X-rays are quick and easy to administer.  Plus they are helpful in clearing certain conditions such as fractures and significant malalignments.  However, arthritis findings don’t actually diagnose the reason why you are getting your pain or dysfunction.  For that, a good subjective history and skilled physical assessment is your best bet.

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