Making Strides Against Arthritis
An estimated 10% to 15% of patients diagnosed as having osteoarthritis actually have post-traumatic arthritis (PTA). PTA can develop after acute joint injury, a ligament tear or a fracture within a joint — even with optimal treatment.
The physicians at Orthopedic Medicine Specialists aim to make strides against arthritis and its often debilitating effects. Drs. Jacob and Rahhal are specialists in reconstructive microsurgery and are trained to treat PTA following trauma to the hand or wrist. In addition to treatment for PTA, Dr. Borrelli is also focused on research in this area.
“If we knew how PTA develops and could prevent it, we could make a huge impact on a very important segment of our population,” said Dr. Borrelli. “PTA generally occurs following trauma in people between 18 and 45 years of age, which is often one of the most productive times in a person’s life.”
With research funding from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, Dr. Borrelli developed a model of PTA so he could study how cartilage changes after a mechanical injury. His preliminary findings revealed a link between joint injury and the development of arthritis.
Dr. Borrelli’s PTA model showed that a single impact — even without a bone fracture — can shut down cartilage cells and stimulate arthritis.
“This may explain why PTA sometimes develops very quickly in patients after an injury, regardless of how successful we were in fixing the fracture,” Dr. Borrelli said. “PTA can develop in just 6 months — unlike osteoarthritis, which may take up to 60 years to develop.”
Dr. Borrelli is making a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of PTA. His clinical and research focus in this area is helping shed light on the affects of joint trauma and preventive measures.
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