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Traumatic Joint Fractures and Post-Traumatic Arthritis 

By Matt Lalande in Personal Injury on July 18, 2019

Traumatic Joint Fractures and Post-Traumatic Arthritis 

Traumatic Joint Fractures and Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, btrucking accidenta and other types of accidents can no doubt cause distress, life-threatening injuries, and severe changes for victims. Sometimes it requires the individual to give up a significant portion of their income and take on skyrocketing debts in order to recover from their injuries.  Unfortunately, for many car accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident or pedestrian victims, the pain does not stop once the injury is healed. In many cases, there are ongoing complications, risks, and pain-related conditions that may arise long after the initial trauma is over. These are conditions that some victims may have to suffer from for the rest of their lives.

Post-traumatic arthritis is a common condition many individuals develop following any type of trauma to the joints that are injured. In fact, damaging a joint raises your chances of developing arthritis sevenfold, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It is particularly common in the knees, elbows, hips, neck, and lower back. All of those areas are common areas that are at risk during car accidents. If left untreated or unmanaged, post-traumatic arthritis could worsen and ultimately result in deformity or complete loss of mobility.

What is Post-Traumatic Arthritis?

Injuries to the joints with or without associated injury of the articular surface, often leads to a progressive process of severe condition known as acute post-traumatic arthritis.  Post-traumatic arthritis can happen at any age, in any joints and can happen from acute physical trauma, such as a vehicle accident or slip and fall. Although a single trauma may sometimes be sufficient to induce arthropathy, repeated overuse of an injured joint can increase the risk for PTA.

Arthritis is described as a condition in which a joint becomes inflamed or suffers from inflammation, which may cause chronic pain. Osteoarthritis occurs when this joint inflammation occurs as a result of wear and tear in the joint surface cartilage. Remember, it’s important to fully understand that adult cartilage does not regenerate.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis is a type of arthritis that is triggered after an individual has suffered traumatic joint fractures or other trauma to their joints. It can occur at any age, and frequently manifests after physical trauma, such as a car accident or a slip and fall.

Post-traumatic arthritis typically happens after an acute direct trauma to the joint area. Post-traumatic arthritis causes about 12% of all osteoarthritis cases.

What are some symptoms of Post-Traumatic Arthritis?

Symptoms differ, but can commonly include such things as:

-swelling around the joint
– tenderness
– reduced range of motion
– decreased tolerance for walking, stair climbing ect and
– fluid in the joint

Symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis may not appear for three to six months after an individual suffers a traumatic joint fracture. For this reason, it is important to understand the risk factors present after the initial treatment of an injury and for accident victims to be aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for, including inflammation, pain and swelling, and heated skin in that area. Generally, an individual who experiences inflammation directly after their joint injury is at a higher risk of experiencing post-traumatic arthritis. Inflammation is generally used as an indication that this may occur, and in such cases, an anti-inflammation treatment may help unless the case has already become severe.

The Four Stages of Post-Traumatic Arthritis after an accident

There are four stages of osteoarthritis depending on the severity of the condition. These stages technically begin at stage zero, but this is generally classified with zero joint damage. As an individual develops osteoarthritis, they may move through each of the stages at a varying pace depending on their injuries and three main factors: genetics, weight, and past injuries. Each of these factors may affect one’s ability to recover.

Stage one is the least severe stage of osteoarthritis. It is generally classified as minor wear and tear in the joints with minimal or no pain in that area for the individual. Generally, at this stage of osteoarthritis, symptoms are left untreated and an individual may be asked to alter some aspects of their lifestyle to improve joint function.

During stage two, an individual may begin to feel mild pain in the affected area after applying strain on it for longer periods of time. For example, you may feel stiff after sitting for a long period of time. At this point, you may be required to wear a brace for certain periods of time, or you may be asked to increase exercise levels.

Stage three generally includes moderate pain and discomfort while the individual performs their daily tasks or activities. At this point, the cartilage in the affected area begins to erode, and pain relieving treatments or medications may be prescribed.

When osteoarthritis progresses to stage four, this is known as end stage arthritis or advanced arthritis. During this stage, the individual may experience severe pain and discomfort that can become so debilitating that they are unable to carry out their daily tasks or activities. It is the most severe form of arthritis and may require end stage joint replacement.

End Stage Joint Replacement

Currently, there are no drugs on the market that are able to slow down or decrease the rate at which one’s arthritis progresses through the various stages. Treatment options focus on pain management as there is no specific cure for arthritis.  End stage joint replacement may be necessary in more severe cases of post-traumatic arthritis. It occurs when an individual’s arthritis reaches the end stage and requires joint replacement surgery in order to completely replace the damaged bone cartilage.

The most common type of joint replacement surgeries are performed on the knees, hips, and shoulders. For these procedures, the main goal is often to reduce the pain and strain on those areas, but other goals may also be to improve the individual’s ability to move and function.

An end stage joint replacement surgery is an invasive procedure used as a last resort to bring function back to the affected area. It can be increasingly time consuming and stressful for the accident victim, and many individuals may never experience the activity level they once enjoyed after surgery. In some cases, the individual may be left unable to return to work and facing an overwhelming amount of debt and financial strain.

Compensation for Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Common causes leading to post-traumatic arthritis include fractures and meniscal ligamentous  injuries. Stufies have shown that ankles are the most affected joint, followed by knees. Less frequently less frequent, PTOA can occur also in other anatomical locations such as the shoulder and hip. From an accident perspective, joint fractures that lead to post-traumatic arthritis are caused by a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a bicycle or cycling accident, a pedestrian hit by a car or a trucking accident. 

Generally, you will need to prove that your osteoarthritis is classified as post-traumatic arthritis and that it has occurred as a direct result of the injuries you have endured from the accident. This is quite easily done by way of imaging such as and MRI along with an independent medical legal opinion written by a properly qualified orthopedic surgeon.

Often, post-traumatic arthritis can lead to an individual becoming totally disabled and unable to work due to stiffness, restricted mobility, chronic pain, and other associated symptoms. In this case, the individual suffers from long-term consequences and may be eligible for additional compensation for the lost income they may face in the future.

Additionally, that victim may also file a claim for long-term disability benefits depending on their insurance policy. Our Hamilton lawyers have specialized in long-term disability claims in addition to personal injury claims, and may provide you with reliable advice and representation if this is an option for you.

If you’ve suffered a joint fracture, call our Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyers today.

Hamilton personal injury lawyer Matt Lalande has been representing accident victims throughout Ontario since 2003. We have worked with individuals who have been left with financial strain and severe pain and suffering caused by the fault of someone else. Book a free consultation with our Hamilton personal injury lawyers to go over the details of your claim and determine the best possible options for you to achieve financial peace of mind. All consultations are free, with no obligation to retain our services, and no fees to be paid until we represent you. If you are incapable of traveling due to your condition, we will travel to you.   Contact our offices at 905-333-8888 or through our online contact form to book your consultation.



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