Posttraumatic osteoarthritis: a first estimate of incidence, prevalence, and burden of disease

J Orthop Trauma. 2006 Nov-Dec;20(10):739-44. doi: 10.1097/


Although posttraumatic osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and important entity in orthopedic practice, no data presently exist regarding its prevalence or its relative burden of disease. A population-based estimate was formulated, based on one large institution's experience in terms of its fraction of patients with OA presenting to lower-extremity adult reconstructive clinics with OA of posttraumatic origin. The relative proportion of these patients undergoing total joint replacement provided a basis for extrapolating institutional experience with posttraumatic OA to a populationwide estimate because the numbers of lower-extremity total joint arthroplasty procedures performed were reliably tabulated both within the institution and populationwide. By this methodology, approximately 12% of the overall prevalence of symptomatic OA is attributable to posttraumatic OA of the hip, knee, or ankle. This corresponds to approximately 5.6 million individuals in the United States being affected by posttraumatic OA sufficiently severe to have caused them to present for care by an orthopedic lower-extremity adult reconstructive surgeon. Further, based on the relative prevalence of OA versus rheumatoid arthritis, and their relative impacts as assessed by the SF-36 (Short-Form 36) lower-extremity physical composite scores, about 85.5% of the societal costs of arthritis are attributable to OA. The corresponding aggregate financial burden specifically of posttraumatic OA is Dollars 3.06 billion annually, or approximately 0.15% of the total U.S. health care direct cost outlay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / complications*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Hip Injuries / complications*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Injuries / complications*
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis / economics
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / economics
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / economics
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*