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Post-Traumatic Arthritis

What is post-traumatic arthritis?

Post-traumatic arthritis (PTA) is a type of osteoarthritis that is caused by a previous joint injury or trauma. If you have suffered a fall, sports injury, car accident or any other form of trauma to a joint, such as the knee or shoulder, then you may be at risk for developing post-traumatic arthritis. Phoenix sports medicine physicians at St. Luke’s Medical Center evaluate, diagnose and treat this degenerative condition using a variety of advanced tools and therapies. Learn more below.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that some sort of traumatic event causes 12 percent of all diagnosed cases of osteoarthritis. This condition (PTA) has been diagnosed in 5.6 million adults in the U.S. Lifetime risk for developing PTA is 57 percent in individuals who have sustained a knee injury. ACL tears and ankle fractures can also increase risk for developing post-traumatic arthritis.

What are the causes of post-traumatic arthritis?

PTA may be caused by:

  • A fall
  • Sports-related injury
  • Car accident
  • Joint surgery
  • Other physical trauma

Sports medicine physicians in Phoenix and around the U.S. are concerned that post-traumatic arthritis may become a serious health problem for the next generation, largely due to the fact that competition in youth sports is becoming more intense and an increasing number of youth sports-related injuries are occurring.

Because of the connection between joint injuries and post-traumatic arthritis later in life, it is paramount that athletes take off sufficient time for healing and recovery before returning to play. Talk to a sports medicine physician in Phoenix for more information. Call 1-877-351-WELL.

What are the symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis?

Symptoms of PTA may include pain, swelling, stiffness, or tenderness of the joint, joint instability and deformities in or around the joint, such as bone spurs or lumps. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, stop physical activity, and schedule an appointment for a joint evaluation.

What can I do to lower my risk for post-traumatic arthritis?

  • Avoid contact sports and high-impact exercise.
  • Use the appropriate protective gear when playing sports.
  • If injured, do not continue physical activity. See your physician.
  • Take plenty of time off to heal. Get a return-to-play clearance from your doctor.

How do sports med physicians diagnose post-traumatic arthritis?

Your Phoenix sports medicine physician at St. Luke’s Medical Center will begin by reviewing your medical history, asking you about your symptoms and performing a physical examination. In some cases, an imaging scan (x-ray or MRI) may be necessary to view the joint’s internal structures.

Your physician may tell you that you have “symptomatic osteoarthritis.” This means that all of your symptoms (joint pain, stiffness, achiness, etc.) correspond with “radiographic osteoarthritis” (joint damage that has been observed via x-ray), but you have not had a diagnostic imaging test.

How is post-traumatic arthritis treated?

The sports medicine doctors at St. Luke’s Medical have access to a variety of therapies for post-traumatic arthritis. Your physician may refer you to other specialists, such as physical therapists, who will become a part of your care team. In addition to the standard therapies for PTA, such as corticosteroid and Synvisc-One® injections, your sports medicine doctor may recommend one of the following. Click on a procedure to learn more:

  • MAKOplasty® Robotic Partial Knee Resurfacing. MAKOplasty® is an alternative to knee replacement surgery. Using this robot-assisted platform, the orthopaedic surgeon removes diseased portions of the knee and places a patient-specific implant in the knee. Recovery from this minimally invasive procedure is approximately two weeks – compared to the six to eight weeks of a traditional knee replacement.
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections. With PRP therapy, your Phoenix sports medicine physician draws a small blood sample, places the sample in a centrifuge, and then injects the injured joint with the isolated platelet/plasma mixture using ultrasound guidance. This therapy relies on the body’s use of its own growth factors for accelerated, drug-free healing.
  • Amniotic Membrane Stem Cell Injections. With this therapy, your Phoenix sports medicine physician injects stem cells into the degenerated joint. Stem cells promote healing and new tissue growth in the joint. Some researchers are currently testing the viability of using stem cell injections after an injury in order to reduce the risk for post-traumatic arthritis.

Schedule an Evaluation With a Phoenix Sports Medicine Physician

To schedule an evaluation with a sports medicine physician in Phoenix, AZ, call St. Luke’s Medical Center at 1-877-351-WELL. New technological advancements in treating post-traumatic arthritis may allow for better results and reduce the need for surgery. Call to find out what options may be available to you at St. Luke’s Medical Center.


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