Diagnosing degenerative elbow arthritis begins by telling your doctor details about injuries to your elbow joint, especially any previous dislocation. “Throwing athletes”, especially baseball pitchers, may be at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the elbow in later years.
Following the history, a physical examination of the elbow joint (and possibly other joints in the body) will be done to see how the motion of the elbow joint has been affected. Catching sensations could suggest loose fragments of cartilage and bone.
X-rays will show how much the joint is damaged and how much articular cartilage is left in the elbow joint.