Background: Antecedent trauma has been implicated in the causation of soft tissue tumors. Several criteria have been established to define a cause-and-effect relationship. We postulate possible mechanisms in the genesis of soft tissue tumors following antecedent traumatic injury. Case presentation: We present a 27-year-old woman with a paraspinal desmoid tumor, diagnosed 3-years following a motor vehicle accident. Literature is reviewed. Conclusion: Soft tissue tumors arising at the site of previous trauma may be desmoids, pseudolipomas or rarely, other soft tissue growths. The cause-and-effect issue of desmoid or other soft tissue tumors goes beyond their diagnosis and treatment. Surgeons should be acquainted with this diagnostic entity as it may also involve questions of longer follow-up and compensation and disability privileges.