What is Post-Traumatic Arthritis?

Most people may think arthritis develops primarily from a general wear-and-tear that age brings on your joints. Unfortunately, many people also develop arthritis months to years to decades after they’ve sustained an injury. This is known as post-traumatic arthritis. Post-traumatic arthritis makes up about 12% of knee, hip, and ankle osteoarthritis cases, which is about 5.6 million Americans.

What causes post-traumatic arthritis?

Post-traumatic arthritis can develop months to years after any physical injury to your joints. Most commonly, physicians see arthritic development in patients who have suffered from vehicle accidents, past sports injuries, military injuries, and falls. These types of injuries can damage a joint’s cartilage, bone, or mechanical structure, causing one or all of those components to wear out faster than normal. If you continue to injure yourself or put on excess weight, arthritis symptoms will increase more rapidly.

According to the CDC, people with a history of a prior knee injury are 57% more likely to develop post-traumatic osteoarthritis than people without. ACL tears and ankle fractures can also eventually lead to osteoarthritis.

What are the symptoms?

If you begin to notice signs of swelling, joint pain, fluid build-up, and difficulty walking, you should contact a doctor. These are the most common signs of osteoarthritis, but they can also be signs of inflammatory arthritic conditions like gout.

Most people who develop osteoarthritis are over the age of 60, so if you are younger than that and have experienced past physical trauma to a joint, you may be developing post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

How do you prevent it?

Accidents and sports injuries are inevitable, but there are ways to care for your joints even when you are young. If you have sustained an injury, go to physical therapy to make sure you are strengthening and treating the weakened area properly. This simple step could prevent you from years of stubborn aches and pains.

Many physicians are predicting an increase in post-traumatic arthritis in the coming years because of increased involvement in youth sports. Many children today play multiple youth sports but do not treat their injuries with proper rehabilitation or rest. Athletes who rest well after an injury, who don’t rush back into their sport, and who avoid getting re-injured will recover much better.

To avoid further problems, you should also maintain a healthy body weight, eat healthy foods, and perform low-impact exercises.

If you are concerned about your joint pain, contact Midwest Center for Joint Replacement. We specialize in joint pain treatment and joint replacement surgery.

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