Osteoarthritis, which affects 20 million Americans, is the most common form of arthritis. About 12% of these osteoarthritis cases are caused by a past physical injury. Here’s what you need to know about post-traumatic arthritis and its causes, symptoms and treatment:
What Exactly is Post-Traumatic Arthritis?
Post-traumatic arthritis is a top cause of joint disability, and accounts for a significant chunk of osteoarthritis cases. Osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage wears down over time, is the most common form of arthritis and can cause chronic joint pain.
Post-traumatic arthritis is commonly seen in hip, knee and ankle joints. Frequently, the condition develops decades after an injury is sustained during a sporting event, car accident or fall. Examples of such injuries include sprains, tears, fractures, and dislocations. These injuries can be acute or chronic.
Even if you’ve healed completely from an injury, you may be at risk for post-traumatic arthritis many years later.
How Do I Know If I’m Suffering From Post-Traumatic Arthritis?
If your arthritic pain is localized and only in one place, it’s very likely caused by an injury you sustained a long time ago. Another tell your age. Most people diagnosed with osteoarthritis are over the age of 60. If you are younger, it’s quite possible that your osteoarthritis is due to a traumatic injury.
Your symptoms won’t necessarily be any different from those with traditional osteoarthritis. Such symptoms include joint pain, swelling and fluid retention in the joint. You may also find that activities that were once easy, like walking or taking the stairs, are now painful.
If you think you may be suffering from post-traumatic arthritis, your doctor will likely ask you a series of questions when evaluating your joint pain. He or she may ask about your injury history and about the details about your discomfort. Your doctor may also want to know what makes the pain better, and what makes it worse. During this process, you could be sent for some type of imaging, like an X-ray, CT scan or MRI.
What is the Treatment for Post-Traumatic Arthritis?
There is no cure for arthritis, so treatment involves pain management. If you are overweight, weight loss could be recommended. Low-impact exercise that strengthens the muscles surrounding the affected joint will also be suggested, sometimes with the help of a physical therapist.
If physical therapy is prescribed, it is important to complete all sessions and continue to do the recommended strength and conditioning exercises at home, even if your pain subsides.
It may also be recommended to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Advil or to inject the affected joint with cortisone. If medication, exercise and lifestyle changes do not adequately relieve pain, your doctor may suggest surgery to help reduce your arthritis discomfort.
There is also research that indicates that klotho proteins may one day be able to prevent osteoarthritis. Klotho is a naturally occurring, human protein discovered in 1997. The protein is involved in many biological pathways and influences longevity, cognition. The Klotho protein has great potential to redefine society’s experience with aging.
If you’re worried you may have or may soon develop post-traumatic osteoarthritis, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
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