Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine



How can I tell if I have arthritis? Seems the older I get, the stiffer I am, and the more joint pain I notice.


Aging is linked with osteoarthritis (OA) of the joints. The hip and knee are affected most often.

Stiffness is also common as we get older. There are many reasons for this. Tendons and ligaments have less water in them. The drying effect makes the joints seem stiff. The cells that make up soft tissues are called collagen. Fewer new collagen cells are formed so we lose some elasticity in the joints and muscles.

There are other changes going on in the joints. The cartilage loses strength. Changes in the cells of the cartilage lead to OA. There is a thinning of the joint space as the cartilage breaks down. This loss in joint space can be seen on X-ray. It's the most common way to diagnose OA.

A medical doctor will use tests of motion and strength along with X-rays to make the diagnosis. An early diagnosis is best so that early treatment can limit problems.

Michael T. Cibulka, PT, MHS, OCS, and Julie Threlkeld, BS, ATC. The Early Clinical Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis of the Hip. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Vol. 34. No. 8. Pp. 461-467.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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