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Post-Traumatic Arthritis

What is post-traumatic arthritis?

Post-traumatic arthritis is a common form of osteoarthritis (OA) that is caused by a previous injury or other form of trauma. (Osteoarthritis is the wearing away of cartilage in the joint.) This condition can occur in any joint, including the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle.

The CDC reports:

  • Approximately 12 percent of all cases of osteoarthritis (OA) are caused by post-traumatic arthritis.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis is diagnosed in about 5.6 million people in the United States.
  • Lifetime risk of knee OA is 57 percent among persons with a history of a prior knee injury.
  • ACL tears and ankle fractures have been linked to incident OA.

What causes post-traumatic arthritis?

Post-traumatic arthritis may be caused by:

  • Athletic injury
  • An injury from a fall
  • Past vehicle accident
  • Past joint surgery
  • Any kind of physical trauma

Youth Sports & Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Many healthcare professionals are concerned that post-traumatic arthritis will become a more prevalent health problem in the United States, as youth sports injuries become more common (despite drops in participation). In addition to the frequency of injuries, obesity levels are rising, and many youth athletes are not getting adequate injury rehabilitation or spending enough time away from sports to recover. Learn more about injury prevention.

Compounded with these problems is the fact that athletes who sustain one injury are at a significantly higher risk for having subsequent injuries in the same joint. In fact, youth athletes who have had a lower extremity injury (which account for more than one-third of all sports-related injuries) are at three to five times the risk for a repeat injury than those who have no injury history.

What are the symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain, swelling, stiffness, or tenderness in the joint
  • Joint instability
  • Deformity, bone spurs, or lumps in the joint

How is post-traumatic arthritis diagnosed?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, a sports medicine physician at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute can perform a full physical evaluation and investigation into your medical history, looking for indications of injury-related arthritis. In addition to a physical examination, your physician may call for an x-ray or MRI to confirm the (possible) diagnosis of arthritis.

How is post-traumatic arthritis treated?

At Hedley Orthopaedic Institute, your sports medicine physician has access to some of the most advanced medical therapies for treating post-traumatic arthritis and other forms of joint pain. These include:

  • Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections: With a PRP injection, the physician uses the patient’s own blood platelets and plasma to jumpstart the healing process. The injected platelets contain a high concentration of growth factors, which help restore cartilage (as well as other damaged tissues) and reduce inflammation.
  • Amniotic Membrane Stem Cell Injections: These injections, which are obtained from amniotic membrane cells, are loaded with growth factors, hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory agents to stimulate growth and healing.

Both of these non-surgical therapies are at the forefront of modern sports medicine. With PRP and/or stem cell injections, many patients with moderate to severe post-traumatic arthritis can get the relief they need to get back to their normal routine.

Joint Replacement Surgery for Post-Injury Arthritis

In some cases, degenerated cartilage and painful joints may be treated through joint replacement surgery. The orthopaedic surgeons at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute offer numerous minimally invasive joint replacement and resurfacing procedures that have helped thousands of patients get back to normal. These include:

For more information about your post-traumatic arthritis treatment options, contact us.


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