Car accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries from bruising to head injuries.  One of the most overlooked results of a car accident is arthritis.  The effects of a crash may aggravate pre-existing arthritis or cause acute post-traumatic arthritis.  In some cases, the symptoms of arthritis may take time to develop.


Arthritis is a colloquial way of referring to over 100 types of conditions that are characterized by inflammation in joints or other areas of the body.   Inflammation is defined as redness and swelling that causes pain and may cause stiffness in the joints.  This condition can involve any part of the body, but most often affects the hip, knee, spine or other weight-bearing joints, as well as the fingers and other non-weight-bearing joints. 

The most common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion.  These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may come and go.  Severe forms of arthritis can result in chronic pain, which affects the ability to complete daily activities and may make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. 


Post-traumatic arthritis involves damage to cartilage in an injured joint resulting from trauma to the body as a result of a physical injury, such as a sports injury, motor vehicle accident or a fall.  This damage can range from bruising to cartilage loss.  Typically damaged or lost cartilage rarely grows back.  This allows for scar tissue to form, which may interfere with movement in the joint and cause further damage. 

Post-traumatic arthritis may also develop where cartilage has not been damaged.  For example, arthritis may develop in the case where a bone fractures and heals out of place.

Post-traumatic arthritis can also develop many years after a crash.  Trauma to joints caused by a car accident increases the chances that arthritis can develop many years following the injury. 

Those suffering from post-traumatic arthritis often experience pain in the joint, swelling, fluid accumulation in the joint and limited mobility.  These symptoms can make participating in physical activities, such as recreational sports or even walking, extremely painful.

Treatment for post-traumatic arthritis often includes weight loss, medication, low-impact physical activity and strengthening exercises, and may include cortisone injections.  If arthritis progresses and non-surgical treatments are no longer effective, surgical options such as debriding reconstructing or replacing worn out joint surfaces may be considered.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to ask your doctor about the chances of developing post-traumatic arthritis and any ways that you can reduce your risk of developing this condition.  This information will be helpful in determining compensation for your injuries.


It is very common that a car accident will make arthritis or other pre-existing medical conditions worse. 

Although an individual’s pre-existing condition may affect their claim for compensation, it certainly does not bar him/her from recovering compensation. 

As a general rule, in assessing damages a judge will only put an accident victim back to his/her original position before the accident occurred.

An accident can make your pre-existing issues worse (an aggravation or exacerbation of a pre-existing injury) or cause a condition that was previously asymptomatic to become symptomatic.  All injuries sustained as a result of a car accident or slip and fall are compensable.  However, you are not entitled to be placed in a position better than your original position before the accident.

If you choose to proceed with a claim, it will be important to obtain the accident victim’s medical records to prove the nature of the pre-existing condition and whether or not this condition was stable at the time of the accident.  Past medical records and more recent medical evaluations since the accident are required to prove the validity of the claim.  These records can verify the diagnosis, treatment taken and ongoing prognosis, which will be useful in proving an injury or disability.

Records such as clinical notes from doctors, diagnostic test reports, office appointment histories, treatment records, laboratory tests, hospital records and account or billing statements are all important documents which may illustrate the severity or nature of the injuries.

The personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP have many years of experience successfully handling cases for compensation by those who have suffered injuries in accidents caused by the negligence of third parties. 

If you have suffered injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP.  Our legal team is made up of knowledgeable lawyers capable of handling a wide range of personal injury cases, including those involving pre-existing conditions.  It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  For a free evaluation, please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 to make an appointment.  We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.