Aggravations of pre-existing conditions can be compensable under Arizona Workers Compensation Law. These are classified as either temporary aggravations or permanent aggravations. A temporary aggravation of a pre-existing condition is one where the underlying condition returns to its “baseline” (how it was prior to the work injury) within a short period of time, usually several weeks. Any aggravation of a pre-existing condition which does not return to baseline is considered permanent, and can qualify for a permanent impairment, either scheduled or unscheduled.
The most common aggravations of pre-existing conditions occur in the spine or the knee, hip, and shoulder joints. All of our joints begin to deteriorate between the ages of 25-35, a process called arthritis. However, oftentimes, this deterioration is completely painless or “asymptomatic”. A traumatic injury can render a previously asymptomatic injury symptomatic, requiring medical treatment and oftentimes resulting in a permanent impairment. Proof of this requires the opinion of a medical expert and oftentimes depends on the credibility of the injured worker in describing his or her pre-injury vs. post-injury symptoms.