Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis

What is Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis?

Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis (PTOA) is a type of arthritis that results from injuries, most commonly from physical traumas such as fractures, strains, sprains, or joint dislocations. The disease affects the cartilage, which is the tissue that protects the joints.

PTOA can develop suddenly or slowly over time, depending on how severe the trauma was. Generally, the more severe the trauma, the more likely it is for Osteoarthritis to occur and the faster it will develop.


The main cause of PTOA is a joint injury that damages the protective cartilage. This can occur through a variety of activities, such as car accidents, falls, participating in contact sports, and vigorous physical activity. Repetitive motions and degenerative diseases, such as osteoporosis, can also increase one’s risk of developing PTOA.


Symptoms of PTOA include the following:

  • Pain and stiffness in the joints
  • Swelling in the affected joint
  • Reduction in the range of motion of the affected joint
  • Grating sensation in the joint
  • Crepitus (a sound or feeling of grinding in the joint)


In order to diagnose PTOA, a doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination, review the patient’s medical history, and discuss their symptoms. The doctor may also recommend X-rays and MRIs to further examine the joints. They may also recommend blood tests to see if other conditions are causing the joint pain.


Treatment for PTOA depends on the severity and type of injury. However, the most common treatments include:

  • Resting the affected joint
  • Ice and heat therapy
  • Exercise and physical therapy
  • Medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids
  • Surgery

It is important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by the doctor in order to reduce the pain and swelling and prevent future damage.


Some prevention methods for PTOA include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight, which will reduce the stress on the joints
  • Wearing the appropriate protective gear, such as knee and elbow pads, when engaging in physical activities or sports
  • Stretching before and after physical activities or sports
  • Avoiding repetitive motions or activities that place too much stress on the joints