Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

During the physical exam, your doctor will press on the affected joint, checking for areas of swelling or tenderness. In some cases, you or your doctor will be able to feel a loose fragment inside your joint. Your doctor will also check other structures around the joint, such as the ligaments.

Your doctor will also ask you to move your joint in different directions to see if the joint can move smoothly through its normal range of motion.

Imaging tests

Your doctor might order one or more of these tests:

  • X-rays. X-rays can show abnormalities in the joint's bones.
  • MRI. Using radio waves and a strong magnetic field, an MRI can provide detailed images of both hard and soft tissues, including the bone and cartilage. If X-rays appear normal but you still have symptoms, your doctor might order an MRI.
  • CT. This technique combines X-ray images taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images of internal structures. CT scans allow your doctor to see bone in high detail, which can help pinpoint the location of loose fragments within the joint.
July 09, 2015