Current treatments for osteoarthritis (OA) are largely palliative until the joints become totally dysfunctional and prosthetic replacement becomes necessary. Effective methods are needed for diagnosing OA and monitoring its progression during its early stages, when the effects of therapeutic drugs or biological agents are most likely to be effective. Theranostic nanosomes and nanoparticles have the potential to noninvasively detect, track and treat the early stages of OA. As articular cartilage does not regenerate once it is degraded, cell-based treatments aided by superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle tracking are attractive future treatment modalities for the later stages of OA progression, when significant cartilage replacement is needed. This article will describe the current and future translational approaches for the detection and noninvasive treatment of degenerative OA.