Traumatic Arthritis

...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!

Traumatic Arthritis develops due to injury to a joint, such as a bad sprain or fracture, can cause damage to the articular cartilage. 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 material 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. It just can't support weight and isn't smooth like true articular cartilage.

An injury to a joint--even if it does not injure the articular cartilage directly--can alter how the joint works. This is true for a fracture where the bone fragments heal differently from the way they were before the break occurred. It is also true when ligaments are damaged that lead to instability in the joint. When an injury results in a change in the way the joint moves, the injury may increase the forces on the articular cartilage. This is similar to any mechanical device or machinery. If the mechanism is out of balance, it wears out faster.

Over many years this imbalance in the joint mechanics can lead to damage to the articular surface. Since articular cartilage cannot heal itself very well, the damage adds up. Finally, the joint is no longer able to compensate for the increasing damage, and it begins to hurt. The damage occurs well before the pain begins.


  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Joint instability
  • Internal bleeding

  • Causes:
  • Blunt trauma
  • Penetrating trauma
  • Repeated trauma
  • Forced inappropriate motion of a joint or ligament.

  • Treatment:
    You and your physician may try non-surgical measures to relieve the pain and inflammation from traumatic arthritis. These may include a weight loss and exercise program, physical therapy, glucosine and chondroitin supplements and anti-inflammatory medications. Joint fluid therapy, such as SUPARTZ. Joint Fluid Therapy may also be prescribed to reduce pain.

    In cases where non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful, you and your physician may decide that surgery is the best option to help you regain your quality of life.


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    ...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!