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What You Should Know about Post-Traumatic Arthritis

July 27, 2011

Millions of people around the world suffer from the severity of post-traumatic arthritis. Symptoms include swelling, joint instability, tenderness, severe pain, and sometimes, internal bleeding.

After a severe injury such as a fracture or dislocation, post-traumatic arthritis develops. That injury can be in the hands or feet, shoulders or knee.

Typically the arthritis sets in directly after a major surgery or even a minor surgery, like to the hand. When this type of arthritis develops it’s considered a form of osteoarthritis.

For older patients, post-traumatic arthritis is found in the hip and hip joint region. This is especially true for hip replacement patients who suffer from a series of identical symptoms as post-traumatic arthritis.

The reason this happens is that hip surgery does not correct arthritis. Once cartilage is damaged, it can not be repaired unless it is replaced completely.

When there is too much pressure on the hips, the cartilage may bruise. This bruising in turns damages the cartilage. Unfortunately there are no surface clues of this damage. What has to happen is that the entire damaged cartilage has to be removed from the joint. If not, the patient will continue to suffer severe joint and hip pain.

Causes of Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Car accidents are one of the most common ways that people suffer from post-traumatic arthritis. For example, someone who’s been in a motorcycle accident in which their shoulder was broken may eventually suffer post-traumatic arthritis.

This is also true for many professional sports athletes who suffer from arthritis pain symptoms even before they retire due to multiple sports injuries. The damaged cartilage in the athletes body acts like glass against the bones.

In addition, an injury to a joint can affect how it operates, whether or not the articular cartilage was affected. This occurs when bones may not heal the way they were originally intended to heal. This then distorts how the joint works, moves and the puts additional pressure on the auricular cartilage.

Over time this mis-alignment will wear out the joint faster. This arthritis will progressively get worse over time, and if you continue to be suffer, you should see your physician for more definitive treatment.

Treatment of Post-Traumatic Arthritis

The only way to really alleviate the pain associated with this type of arthritis is to have an MRI so a doctor can look for cartilage floating in your joints. Then consult a orthopedic doctor to discuss treatment options.

Platelet-rich plasma treatment on knee arthritis is also finding success.

By the way, it’s not an old wives’ tale that a stiff and achy joint can predict changes in the weather. It’s in fact true. Due to the barometric changes inside you joint you will be very good at predicting the weather. Whether that’s a benefit is an entirely different story.

Dr. Rick Lehman is a distinguished orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri and an articular cartilage reconstruction pioneer He owns U. S. Sports Medicine in Kirkwood, MO, and LehmanHealth. Learn more about Dr. Rick.


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