Overcoming the “Arthritis” defense


Defense attorneys sometimes deflect liability by arguing that a patient’s pre-existing joint degeneration is largely responsible for their (inevitable) symptoms. This opinion is not supported by recent research.

An August 2018 comprehensive research synthesis that examined the relationship between degeneration and low back pain concluded: “None of the studies found a correlation between the degree of degenerative changes and pain intensity.”

An earlier systematic review of 33 studies demonstrated that the presence of asymptomatic degeneration increased from 37% of 20-year-old individuals to 96% of 80-year-old individuals.

These studies confirm that the presence of osteoarthritic degeneration does not necessitate pain. Patients with degeneration, however, are more vulnerable to painful joint and soft tissue injuries.


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