Post-traumatic arthritis (PTA) is a form of osteoarthritis caused by the wearing down of joints or cartilages covering the joints or unhealed injury of the joints that has been caused by any previous injury or trauma. Any joint of the body can be affected. Post-traumatic arthritis usually shows it impact after several years from the time the injury has been caused.The condition is worsened by rapid wearing down of the joints and the articular cartilages due to the repeated injury to the same site.
Post-traumatic arthritis usually occurs when there is damage to the articular cartilages owing to injury or trauma. Other causes can be injuries caused by any kind of sports. Any fracture or accidents that has occurred in the past, are the other causes leading to post-traumatic arthritis. Any previous joint surgery can also be a reason for PTA
PTA primarily affects joints, pain in joints and swelling are the most commonly noted symptoms. Redness around the affected joints and difficulty in the movement of joints are the other unavoidable symptoms. Presence of bone spur; stiffness of the joints seen mainly when not used for sometime are the other common symptom.Difficulty in activities like walking and climbing that put stain on the joints are also seen in post-traumatic arthritis patients.
To diagnose post-traumatic arthritis, a physician performs physical examination of the joints.The physical examination include the gait analysis , which is used to determine the strength of the ankle joints. The physician asks about any previous injury or trauma that has happened and checks for the tenderness, redness, swelling and range of motion of the joints. Further , X-rays of the joints are taken.A physician can determine the post-traumatic arthritis of the joints from a X-ray report.Weight-bearing X-rays are the best suited options for this purpose. Computed tomographic (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance image (MRI) are also be used for this purpose. It helps in the visualization of the cartilages also. Other tests such as bone scans are also done.
Post-traumatic arthritis is not a curable disease, however the the symptoms exhibited by the patients can be treated. Treatments are available to reduce the pain, swelling or stiffness of the joints, enabling the patient to lead an active life.Disease progression can be slowed down by taking medications and strict monitoring of the results after regular tests.
Certain lifestyle changes such as regular physical exercise, caring the joints and healthy diet are recommended. An ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) can be used to get support or to increase the walking efficiency. Custom made shoe or shoe inserts can also serve the purpose. Losing weight is one of the important thing as obesity puts more strain on the joints. In certain cases, doctors may suggest surgeries. Depending on the location of the damage and severity of the injury different surgeries such as replacement surgeries are suggested. Sometimes, more than one surgery on different joint is required to achieve the desired result.