Did a Car Accident Aggravate a Pre-Existing Condition?

Sep 22, 2022

Car Accident Aggravate a Pre-Existing ConditionCar accidents can occur at any time and impact anyone, even if the accident is not your fault. In the United States, about 6 million car accidents are reported annually. Car accidents can potentially worsen an injury or medical issue that you had already been dealing with prior to the accident. Insurance companies look to limit their liability in these situations, so it is important that you have these pre-existing conditions well documented, including any treatment you may have had for them. This thorough record-keeping before the fact will ensure that you can prove to them that the car accident aggravated your injury.

Even if you feel fine after a car accident, it is still important to get yourself checked by a specialist as soon as possible in case of any issues or injuries caused by the accident. Most of these injuries are very time-sensitive, so the quicker you can be examined, the better.

We welcome you to reach out to AICA in Jonesboro to ensure that you receive a proper exam for any injuries from your car accident that may have potentially aggravated a pre-existing condition.

Pre-Existing Conditions

In the context of healthcare, a pre-existing condition is a medical condition that started prior to a person’s health insurance going into effect. These are chronic conditions that someone will continue to require coverage for if they switch health insurance providers. In the instance of a car accident, a person was already experiencing these injuries or conditions before the accident. It’s important that you disclose any pre-existing conditions to the doctor who performs your exam after a car accident and during a personal injury claim.

Medical History

You must be honest about pre-existing conditions. Many people consider lying about their pre-existing conditions because they think they will not be compensated for their injuries, but this is not the case. For example, if you experienced a neck injury in the past that required physical therapy and medication, but after the car accident you were required to have surgery for it, compensation would be needed to pay for the surgery and any other damages. While you cannot recover compensation for a pre-existing injury or condition, you are entitled to compensation for the aggravation or any new treatment you may need to seek after the accident. You must disclose your full medical history to your healthcare provider to ensure that you have everything documented in the case of an insurance claim.

Common Conditions Worsened in Car Accidents

Common Conditions Worsened in Car AccidentsUnfortunately, some conditions are commonly worsened in car accidents. Many other conditions may potentially be made worse as well, but the common conditions worsened in car accidents include neck injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. Injuries that involve the neck, back, or spinal cord are typically degenerative and chronic. If you suffer from any of these and are involved in a car crash, these conditions can be easily aggravated by the force of impact.

People with pre-existing head or brain injuries can be greatly impacted by a car accident that aggravates this condition. If you have already suffered from a traumatic brain injury, the risk for re-injury is high and there are potential long-lasting or permanent consequences. Below are some of the common injuries that occur as a result of a car accident that may aggravate your pre-existing condition.


Whiplash occurs during a car accident when the head and neck jerk forward and backward in a violent, sudden motion. This motion can cause tearing and straining to ligaments, muscles, and nerves in the neck. A rear-end collision is the most common type of car accident to cause this injury. Symptoms of whiplash may not be present immediately after the accident, but it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Soft Tissue Damage

Car accidents can cause tears, sprains, or strains in the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the neck. Soft tissue damage typically causes tenderness, pain, and stiffness in the neck or shoulders. A muscle strain may also cause a reduced range of movement in the neck or muscle spasms.

Slipped or Herniated Disc

A high-impact car accident can cause discs in the cervical spine to slip out of place from between vertebrae. When this occurs, the injured disc may compress nerves in the spinal cord. A pinched nerve can cause weakness, pain, and tingling or numbness in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands.

Facet Joint Injury

The impact from a car accident can inflame and irritate the facet joints, which are the joints in the cervical spine that aid in head and neck mobility and stabilization. It can also damage the surrounding ligaments, which can impact the movement and range of motion of the facet joints.

Back Sprains and Strains

When a back strain occurs, your soft tissue stretches beyond what it should, which causes damage. A strain relates to the tendons in your back that connect bones to muscles. A back sprain causes damage to the ligaments that connect your joints to bones or bones to other bones. Both sprains and strains can cause pain that is difficult to eliminate. Since imaging tests do not pick up this kind of damage, it’s necessary to discuss these injuries with a doctor.


Spondylolisthesis is a vertebra that is displaced by a stress fracture. As the vertebrae move, they can compress nerves or the spinal canal. The amount of displacement and the location affect the levels of pain and necessary treatment. Typically people with this injury experience pain, weakness, and numbness. They may also find it hard to walk.


Although concussions are considered mild traumatic brain injuries, they can still lead to potentially serious health effects and extreme pain. Concussions are caused by a blow to the head and are marked by symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, a ringing sensation in the ears, and blurred vision. Car accidents can easily cause concussions since nearly any type of impact in an accident can cause your head to hit something inside your vehicle.


A brain contusion is a bruise on the brain. They are often caused by a blow to the head or a violent jolt that causes your brain to collide with the inside of the skull. Many contusions heal on their own, but they can lead to more serious conditions, including blood clots and bleeding on the brain, so it is important that you receive a thorough examination if you have a contusion. In car accidents, contusions can be caused by your heading hitting something inside the vehicle and also by your heading shaking violently during the accident. Symptoms of a contusion include changes in cognition, trouble speaking, and challenges with memory.


A hemorrhage is when bleeding occurs internally. Bleeding can occur in the brain tissue, known as an intracerebral hemorrhage, or in the space around the brain, known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Symptoms of a hemorrhage include vomiting, headaches, and loss of consciousness.

Long-Term Complications

If left untreated, car accident-related injuries can cause chronic, systemic issues down the road in addition to aggravating your pre-existing condition. Many people may experience these side effects for months or even years. Chronic pain can lead to anger, depression, and anxiety if left untreated, so it is important that you receive a thorough examination so that these injuries can be addressed. If your car accident injury did aggravate a pre-existing condition, it is extremely important to seek medical attention in case there is additional treatment necessary and to ensure that you have everything necessary to file an insurance claim if needed. Waiting to receive treatment will increase the odds of negative long-term health effects as well as make it more difficult to file a claim.

Get Treated Today

What doctor to see after car accidentIn order to determine if your car accident injury aggravated a pre-existing condition and to avoid long-term pain and damage from your injury, seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident, even if you do not immediately feel pain or symptoms. It is also important to make sure you choose the right healthcare provider after your accident. At AICA Orthopedics, our specialists have the training and experience to identify, diagnose, and treat your car accident injuries.

Visit AICA Orthopedics to learn more about how our team of doctors can help you receive a proper diagnosis and provide you with an effective treatment plan for your car accident injury. Our specialists will talk you through all of your options for your injury, and our doctors will help you determine what treatment will work best for you. We also have physical therapists who work alongside our orthopedic surgeons and other specialists to ensure that you receive quality, comprehensive care as you recover. It is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible after a car injury to diagnose any injuries that may have aggravated a pre-existing condition and to get started on treatment if necessary. Call or visit us online to get started at an AICA Orthopedics location near you.


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