Can Getting in an Auto Accident Cause Arthritis?

When people are involved in an auto accident, their most immediate concern is any urgent medical situations. Afterward, it’s often the problems that come with repairing or replacing their vehicle. Considering the long-term impacts, however, can have a direct bearing on how much of a settlement is negotiated or what kind of medical treatment options you choose. Because many times, symptoms of injuries won’t set in until some time after the accident has passed.

Arm and leg damage

Chronic joint inflammation is called osteoarthritis, and there are a few a variety of causes, but typically repetitive movements over a long period of time after an acute or sudden injury can set up the right conditions for osteoarthritis to develop. This is most common in knees, ankles, and hips, but can also occur in shoulders, elbows, and wrists or even fingers as well.

Even if you did not sustain any kind of lacerations or broken bones, even just the force of legs or arms being flung through the air during a crash can cause acute joint damage. If you were previously injured in an area affected by the crash, be proactive and err on the side of caution.

Sometimes the adrenaline from the crash masks the initial pain of things like joint injuries, and people may refuse treatment or X-rays, not realizing the extent of the physical trauma. Steve Moore, an auto accident lawyer in Mobile, AL, commonly sees this happen and notes that he has “represented many clients whose injuries did not manifest until weeks after a car wreck”. So keep detailed records and documentation of your symptoms and treatments while your claim is in process.

How you care for your body after the crash has a lasting impact on the overall and long-term health of your joints, especially if you seek physical therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments. Structuring your claim or settlement to include these kinds of post-traumatic therapies can dramatically reduce the risk or delay development of the kind of chronic inflammation and joint breakdown associated with arthritis.


Another common injury sustained in auto accidents is whiplash, which ranges from mild to severe. Once again, it’s important to obtain an X-ray to ensure the injury is not more severe or involving any part of your spinal column. Typically, whiplash is a soft-tissue injury though damage to nerves and discs can occur and can mimic the pain of arthritis in your neck. The intense pain and stiffness can take weeks or even months to go away, and many of the symptoms associated with this type of injury can be alleviated by chiropractic care. In addition to personalized care, treatments with things like heated traction tables can provide immense relief to more severe symptoms.

Whiplash should be taken seriously, especially if you have a previous neck or back injury or your line of work is likely to physically aggravate your condition. If you are struggling to have your treatment and lost wages approved as part of your accident claim, obtaining the help of an accident attorney can make all the difference.

Managing your recovery

One of the biggest things to focus on in terms of arthritis prevention after your accident is managing inflammation. Consulting openly and honestly with your doctor about your level of discomfort and mobility is key, as is working with an attorney who can help get both your short-term and long-term medical care covered through the claim.

Taking care of your joints in every way possible, including appropriate rest of the affected areas and completing any prescribed courses of medication, is not only important for your short-term comfort and healing, but also for your long-term prognosis.

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