Traumatic arthritis

Original Editors - Lynn Leemans Top Contributors - Lynn Leemans and Laura Ritchie  

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The following databases have been used to found information about "Traumatic Arthritis":

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  • Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
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The following Search Terms have been used:

  • Traumatic Arthritis
  • Arthritis


Traumatic arthritis is a curable form of arthritis.[1] It does not necessarily lasts forever. There is an inflammation of the joint, which is a part of the body’s reaction to injury. [2] Traumatic arthritis is sometimes considered a secondary osteoarthritis. [3]

Clinically Relevant Anatomy 

Trauma can cause damage to the articular cartilage. Because of this, the cartilage is weakened and cannot withstand the stress. The articular cartilage layer begins to break down. [3]

Epidemiology /Etiology 

It’s important to know the difference between the regular arthritis and traumatic arthritis. Traumatic arthritis develops as a result of a trauma while the regular arthritis develops gradually without any apparent outside reason. The trauma or damage could have been caused as long ago as 2-5 years after the joint is injured. [4][5]
The cartilage can be bruised when too much pressure is exerted on it. This damages the cartilage, although if you look at the surface it may not appear to be any different. The injury to the joint doesn't show up until months later. Sometimes the cartilage surface is damaged even more severely and pieces of the cartilage are ripped from the bone. These pieces do not heal back and usually must be removed from the joint surgically. If not, they may float around in the joint causing the joint to catch and be painful. These fragments of cartilage may also do more damage to the joint surface. Once this cartilage is ripped away, it does not normally grow back. Unlike bone, holes in the surface are not simply replaced by the cartilage tissue around the hole. Instead the defects are filled with scar tissue. The scar tissue that forms is not nearly as good a material for covering joint surfaces as the cartilage it replaces. [6]

Characteristics/Clinical Presentation 

There are several symptoms that can indicate a case of traumatic arthritis. Most accepted symptoms are:
- swelling of the joint
- pain in the joint
- intolerance to weight baring activities. [1]
- joint instability
A diagnose of traumatic arthritis can be considered, even more when this condition develops at an early age. [7]

Differential Diagnosis

Diagnostic Procedures

Sometimes pain comes and goes over a long period of time. The pain may or may not be accompanied by inflammation of the joint or surrounding area. Often the symptoms would disappear without any major medical intervention, these symptoms may re-appear after a while. [3]
Any injury to any bone can lead to traumatic arthritis. The doctor should be informed if there has been such injury so the correct investigative measures are employed to identify the disease.
You should also observe whether similar symptoms are manifested with other parts of the body. If yes, then it might not be traumatic arthritis. If not, then further investigation can be done to rule out any possibility of mistaken diagnosis. Normally, an MRI would be a good test to pinpoint the exact condition of the joint.[8] [6]

Outcome Measures

Medical Management

Physical Therapy Management 

Conservative treatment measures includes modifying the patient’s activities and unloading the joint with crutches or walker. Also, supplemental glucosamine, anti-inflammatory medicaments, pain medications may help. Physical therapy to regain motion and strength and coordination is often helpful. Weight loss in the overweight patient is important and exercise. [9]
When this non-surgical treatment is not successful, surgery can be considered. [10]

Key Research


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  1. 1.0 1.1 B. Benjamin (PhD) © 2001, “Traumatic Arthritis”
  2. The Cleveland Clinic © 1995-2011; “Diseases and conditions” (
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 D.J. Brugioni (M.D); J. Falkel ( 2004), “Total knee replacement rehabilitation. The knee owner’s manual”; Hunter House Inc.
  4. Books (Google) “A system of orthopaedic medicine, Volume 1”; L. Ombregt, P. Bisschop, H.J. ter Veer; Elsevier limited; 2003
  5. C. Saltzman et al; Epidemiology of ankle arthritis: report of a consecutive series 639 patients fckLRfrom a tertiary orthopaedic center; The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal; 2000 (Level of evidence: 2B)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Diagnosing Traumatic Arthritis © 2007-2008; “The Factors That Lead To The Correct Diagnosis Of Traumatic Arthritis” (
  7. N. Wei (MD) © 2004; “Traumatic arthritis”
  8. Books (Google) “A system of orthopaedic medicine, Volume 1”; L. Ombregt, P. Bisschop, H.J. ter Veer; Elsevier limited; 2003
  9. N. Wei (MD) © 2004; “Traumatic arthritis”
  10. Diagnosing Traumatic Arthritis © 2007-2008; “The Factors That Lead To The Correct Diagnosis Of Traumatic Arthritis” (
,Lynn Leemans</div> [[1]]