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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2012;20 Suppl 1:S64-9. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-20-08-S64.

Posttraumatic osteoarthritis caused by battlefield injuries: the primary source of disability in warriors.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX, USA.


The Army Physical Evaluation Board results for wounded warriors from a previously described cohort were reviewed to identify permanently disabling conditions and whether the conditions were preexisting or caused by battlefield injury. Arthritis was the most common unfitting condition in this cohort, with 94.4% of cases attributed to combat injury and only 5.6% attributed to preexisting conditions or documented in the health records prior to battle injury. The most common causes of injury that resulted in arthritis were intra-articular fractures secondary to explosions, traumatic arthrotomies resulting from fragment projectiles, and gunshot wounds. Arthritis was recognized as a disabling condition an average of 19 ± 10 months after injury. Research is needed to enhance prevention and management of joint injuries in order to minimize the disabling effects of joint degeneration in this young patient population.

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