Sometimes things that happened when we were younger come back to haunt us when we are older. That can be said for old knee injuries. Years later, that old injury can turn into post-traumatic arthritis or PTA. The injury could have happened from sports, a fall, a car accident, past surgery, or any kind of physical trauma.

Post-traumatic arthritis is a form of osteoarthritis, or wearing out of the surface of the joint, that comes after a physical injury to that joint. The injury could have damaged the cartilage or the bone and impacted the mechanics of the joint. Even if surgery or other therapy repaired the damage, it still happened, and nothing can repair that.

Sometimes, bones might not heal properly after surgery, impacting joint alignment. Over time, this problem wears out the joint quickly, causing arthritis.

Post-traumatic arthritis causes about 12 percent of osteoarthritis cases and happens in about 5.6 million people in the United States.


The symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis are similar to osteoarthritis and include:

  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Fluid accumulation in the joint
  • Pain while walking, doing sports, climbing stairs, or other activities that can put stress on the joint
  • Joint instability
  • Deformity, bone spurs, or lumps in the joint

Osteoarthritis often occurs in older people, in their sixties or older, so when someone younger comes in with it, doctors often look for past trauma. Pain and other symptoms that are isolated to one joint can also be a sign of post-traumatic arthritis.

Almost any sport or old sports injury could cause osteoarthritis.

Protecting Yourself

However, just because you had knee surgery years ago or broke your ankle in a car accident doesn’t mean you are destined for osteoarthritis.

Keep your body weight within a healthy range so you do not put extra stress on your joints. Be aware of the stress you put on your joints. If your job is strenuous, you are probably making your joints do more work than someone who works at a desk all day.

For young athletes, make sure to rehabilitate any injuries appropriately and recover properly. Also, people who injure a joint are at a higher risk for hurting that same joint again.

Treating Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Treatment usually begins with weight loss and low impact exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the injured joints. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can also help.

If the pain persists and these treatments are not effective, other treatments might help. The professionals at Flexogenix are committed to non-surgical options to relieve your pain. Get in touch with us today.