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Post-Traumatic Arthritis


If you have developed pain and swelling in a joint that you previously injured, you may have post-traumatic arthritis. Even injuries that were treated right away can flare up again years later and cause a joint to wear out more quickly. Dr. Gregg Vagner is an orthopedic surgeon in Austin, TX, who specializes in injuries to the hands, wrists, and elbows. He can assess your symptoms and determine whether they are caused by arthritis. Dr. Vagner focuses on providing conservative solutions whenever possible. He also offers orthopedic surgery for more severe cases. 

inflamed joint

Post-traumatic arthritis affects joints that have undergone treatment for trauma.

What Causes Post-Traumatic Arthritis?

According to some studies, previous traumatic injuries account for 12 percent of the cases of osteoarthritis in the United States. While this number is typically associated with knee, hip, or ankle injuries, any joint injury could eventually lead to post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA).

PTOA can occur as the result of any kind of injury to the joint. Common causes include:

  • Athletic injury
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Previous joint surgery

Injuries can damage the cartilage or bone and change the mechanics of the joint. These changes, in turn, cause the joint to wear out more quickly, especially if additional stress is placed on the joint over time. For this reason, PTOA is more often seen in younger patients than typical osteoarthritis

Common Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms associated with post-traumatic arthritis include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the joint
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness or joint instability
  • Lumps or other deformities

You may also notice that you have a decreased tolerance for activities that place stress on certain joints. For example, post-traumatic arthritis in the hands may make typing or playing the piano more difficult or even painful. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment at our practice.

Diagnosing PTOA

During your consultation with Dr. Vagner, he will discuss your symptoms and medical history to gain a better sense of the issue. He may ask about:

  • The history of your injury
  • How and when your joint bothers you
  • What decreases the pain
  • What makes your symptoms worse

He will also conduct a physical examination. We may perform x-rays or other scans to assess the health of your joint. In some cases, Dr. Vagner will also order a blood test. 

Your Treatment Options

Dr. Vagner believes in using the most conservative methods possible for relieving symptoms and restoring joint health. He will likely recommend lifestyle changes and physical therapy exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected joint. Some patients also benefit from anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. 

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis due to a previous injury, Dr. Vagner can find a solution to restore the health and comfort of your joints.

If these methods do not provide relief, Dr. Vagner may recommend a cortisone injection. This treatment can improve the comfort and function of your joints. 

For pain that persists despite nonsurgical treatment, Dr. Vagner can perform surgery to restore the health and comfort of the affected joints. Common surgeries for PTOA include debridement, reconstruction, and joint replacement. Dr. Vagner will work with you to find the solution best suited to your needs.

Find Relief from Painful Symptoms

Post-traumatic arthritis is a progressive condition. Symptoms such as pain and swelling are likely to become worse if you do not seek treatment. If you are suffering from osteoarthritis due to a previous injury, Dr. Vagner can find a solution to restore the health and comfort of your joints. Reach out to our office online or call (512) 476-2830 today.

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"I am committed to using experience, along with the latest techniques and technologies, to help my patients achieve the full function, mobility, and comfort in their hand, wrist, and arm that they experienced prior to their injury."

Dr. Gregg Vagner

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Austin Office

4611 Guadalupe St
Ste 200
Austin, TX 78751

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Cedar Park Office

715 Discovery Blvd
Ste 102
Cedar Park, TX 78613

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5329 Serene Hills Dr
Ste 202
Austin, TX 78738

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