Can You Develop Arthritis Because of a Car Accident?

Car accidents can cause numerous debilitating conditions that may go undetected for years, including post-traumatic arthritis. If you developed post-traumatic arthritis from an auto accident and need medical treatment, then you may be able to claim compensation. A St. Louis car accident attorney at Cofman Townsley can navigate Missouri’s complex personal injury laws to help you file your claim if you are eligible.

How Long Does It Take for Arthritis to Show After an Accident?

Post-traumatic arthritis can develop from damage to the joints. Anyone can develop it, but it is more common in younger people, especially teenagers.

The most commonly affected joint for post-traumatic arthritis is the ankle, contributing between 54% and 78% of the 300,000 injuries nationwide each year. Knee injuries account for 12.5% of all cases of post-traumatic arthritis. The condition can also show up in the shoulder and hip.

The diagnosis of post-traumatic arthritis may not happen until the symptoms show up. It may develop rapidly or within a year. Post-traumatic arthritis can also remain asymptomatic until 10 to 20 years after the accident.

How to Tell If You Have Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis can present with several symptoms. If you experience any of the following symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

  • Joint swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Joint instability
  • Sensitivity and tenderness around the joint

Post-traumatic arthritis usually heals on its own within the first few months of the accident. If the symptoms persist after six months, it is considered chronic and may last for the rest of your life.

Inform your lawyer if you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic arthritis by your doctor. They can help you prove how your condition was caused by the accident.

How to Treat Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Your doctor can diagnose post-traumatic arthritis using imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. They ask you questions about your joint pain, find out your symptoms, and compare your injured joint to its health before your car crash.

A doctor can also identify medical treatments to manage your condition. Some treatments may involve:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation, swelling, and stiffness
  • Low-impact exercise that moves the joint while relieving pain
  • Lifestyle changes like weight loss to lessen stress on the joints
  • Physical therapy to help you gain strength and flexibility around your injured joint

These treatments may take a few months to manage your symptoms. If the treatments don’t work or you experience chronic pain after several months, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgeries for post-traumatic arthritis can involve replacing the joint, removing damaged tissue, or inserting a plate to preserve the bones in your joint.

With the assistance of your lawyer, you can collect medical records and invoices from your hospital stays, doctor visits, and medications to prove your damages. Speak to a lawyer to discuss how to file a compensation claim for your treatment costs. 

Can I Claim Compensation for Post-Traumatic Arthritis?

Since the symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis can occur months or years after an accident, it can be difficult to prove the injury was caused by your car crash. Additionally, the statute of limitations may have already passed or you may have already settled with an insurance company for your other injuries before you were diagnosed with post-traumatic arthritis. In these cases, you may not be able to file a claim for compensation. You should speak with a lawyer about your injury to be sure.

However, if you had a form of arthritis before the accident, and it was made worse due to the accident, you may have a claim for compensation.

Your lawyer can work with your doctor to review your previous medical records and prove the aggravation of your condition. They can also gather statements from family and friends to understand how your condition has affected your quality of life since your car crash.

The doctor’s opinion, statements from family and friends, and your medical bills can help the insurance company assess your claim. When negotiating with the insurance company, your lawyer can ensure that the cost of treatment and loss of wages due to the aggravation of your pre-existing arthritis is included in your settlement. 

Speak With Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident and developed post-traumatic arthritis, contact the attorneys at Cofman Townsley to discuss your next steps. Our lawyers can gather and provide evidence of your pain, diminished quality of life, and the financial damages you have experienced due to your injuries.

Find out if you’re entitled to compensation by contacting our law office for a free consultation.