Periarticular (the area surrounding a joint) fractures affect the bones that make up the joints throughout the body. While any bone is susceptible, the most common joint fractures tend to occur in the tibia (shin bone), distal femur (thigh), ankle, and elbow. Like any bone fracture, periarticular fractures can result from direct trauma, or from weakening in the bone due to underlying conditions like arthritis, sarcoma (primary bone tumor), or metastatic bone tumors (cancer that originates in one part of the body and then spreads to another, in this case, the bones).
Treatment for periarticular fractures in Los Angeles typically depends on the severity of the break, the location, and the cause of the fracture. Because the joints are made up of a complex network of connective tissue including cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscle, periarticular fractures treatment can be more complicated than with fractures of the long bones of the arms and legs.
Signs and Symptoms of a Fracture
Because joint damage can develop from a number of sources with many conditions producing similar symptoms, an accurate diagnosis from an orthopedic specialist is necessary to properly assess the injury and determine the most appropriate treatment and recovery options. The most common symptoms of periarticular fractures are:
- Inflammation of surrounding connective tissue
- Stiffness in the joint and mobility problems
- Joint instability
Causes and Risks for Periarticular Fractures
Trauma – The most common cause of high impact traumatic injuries to the long bones and joints is car accidents. Although car accidents have been on the decline in recent decades, motor vehicle incidents account for millions of injuries every year. In addition to car accidents, other common causes of traumatic injuries that can result in orthopedic fractures include sports injuries from contact sports like football, wrestling, and hockey, and the impact from a fall.
In some cases, a traumatic orthopedic injury can lead to arthritis years or even decades after the initial injury, causing cartilage deterioration and further weakening of the joint, making the surrounding bones more susceptible to fractures and chronic pain.
Osteoarthritis – The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis) affects millions of Americans each year, and is the result of the gradual degeneration of the protective cartilage that lines the ends of the bones where they meet in the joint space. This prevents friction and allows for smooth gliding and range of motion in the joint. Without sufficient cartilage, the ends of the bones grind against each other and become worn down, leading to pain, difficulty moving the corresponding joint and limb (most commonly the hips, shoulders, arms, and legs) and causing instability and alignment problems in the joint.
Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis causes bone loss that weakens and makes the bones brittle and more susceptible to fractures. Like collagen in the skin, healthy bones regularly produce new bone tissue, a process that eventually slows down with age. For a person suffering from osteoporosis, a strong impact is not necessary to cause a fracture.
Because the bones are already weakened, even light pressure can result in a break depending on the severity of the bone loss, so that even seemingly healthy adults with little to no symptoms up to that point can experience a fracture from regular non-impact activities like swinging a tennis racket or even from the minimal impact of a light fall. Learn more about osteoporosis at niams.nih.gov.
Tumors – Like osteoporosis, bone tumors can weaken the affected bone, and in many cases are actually diagnosed when the patient suffers a fracture to the affected bone as a result. There are both benign and malignant types of bone tumors and cancer in the bones is usually the result of metastasis, where cancer originated in another part of the body like the breasts or the prostate, and then spread to the bones.
Although rare, there are also several forms of primary cancer that originate in bone tissue (known as sarcomas). There are many different forms of sarcoma, some that are more common in children and others that affect older men and women. They can technically develop in any bone in the body, but are most common in the long bones of the arms and legs, especially in the developing years of early adolescence, making limb preservation a primary focus of periarticular fractures treatment.
The most common types of bone sarcomas are:
- Ewing’s Sarcoma
Bone and Joint Injury Treatment in Los Angeles
Periarticular fracture treatment may require several steps depending on the extent of the damage to the joint. In addition to repairing the fracture to the bone, which can be done with either casting, surgical plates and screws, or external fixators depending on the fracture pattern and severity of the break, additional surgery and treatment may be necessary to repair damage to the connective tissue in and around the joint.
Los Angeles Orthopedic Surgeon
Dr. Daniel C. Allison is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with expertise in advanced musculoskeletal trauma, advanced joint reconstruction, periartcular fractures repair, and orthopedic tumor treatment and limb preservation. For more information about advanced diagnostic, treatment, and recovery options for orthopedic injuries and cancer, call 310-730-8008 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Allison today.
Next, read Long Bone Fractures