Can Car Accidents Cause Sciatica?

After a car accident, it’s common for victims to experience painful symptoms that leave them feeling weak. If you experience muscle numbness and weakness in your lower back and one of your legs, it could be the result of sciatica.

The Mayo Clinic defines sciatica as “pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.” Pain from sciatica can range from mild aches to acute pain, and typically affects only one side of the body.

Older adults who have lost some of their ability to move around are typically sciatica victims, but it can also be the result of a car accident. Depending on the level of ongoing pain, suffering from sciatica can severely impact your quality of life. It’s vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat and recover from this disorder.

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How Do Car Accidents Cause Sciatica?

After a car accident, sciatica may occur if a herniated disc, narrowing of the spine, or bone spur on the spine pinches the sciatic nerve. One of The Barnes Firm’s best car accident lawyers says the impact of a car crash may trigger a herniated disc and other injuries related to the connective tissue along the spine. As a result, the sciatic nerve may compress and cause mild to severe pain. If you have a history of back problems, a car accident can prompt sciatica.

What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica After a Car Accident?

If you’re experiencing pain for longer than a couple of weeks after a car accident, the injury may be worse than anticipated.

Common symptoms of sciatica after a car accident may include:

  • Nonstop pain in one side of your leg or one side of the buttocks
  • Tingling or burning pain in the leg that’s amplified when sitting
  • Sharp pain that makes walking or standing up challenging
  • Inability to flex the foot upward at the ankle, also known as foot drop
  • Numbness, weakness, or problems moving the foot or leg

The symptoms of sciatica are painful and can severely limit a person’s ability to get around. Our best car accident lawyers say it’s essential that you see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident to ensure that you receive adequate treatment to prevent ongoing pain. The treatment you receive will also help to support a potential car accident injury claim.

If your injury claim goes to trial, the opposing insurance company or legal team will evaluate your medical records to validate your claim. For that reason, even if the pain is subtle immediately after your car accident, do not hesitate to notify your doctor.

business woman with back pain and neck pain in office
doctor holding a stethoscope out

What Are Common Treatments for Sciatica?

A doctor may check your reflexes and muscle strength to identify and treat sciatica. Standard tests they may ask you to perform on your first visit include walking on your toes or heels and rising from a squatting position – as pain from sciatica typically worsens when performing these movements.

Diagnosing Sciatica

If your pain is severe or worsens, a doctor may order any of the following imaging tests to determine whether you suffer from sciatica after your car accident:

  • X-ray: Imaging made from electromagnetic energy beams in an x-ray can reveal bones, organs, and internal tissues that may be damaged.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test is often used to detect broken bones, tears to ligaments and tendons, and other soft tissue injuries. MRI results can be used to create a detailed 3D model of your body’s structure, which helps your doctor identify proper treatment.
  • Electromyography (EMG): This test measures and records electrical impulses in your nerves and the reactions of your muscles that aid your doctor in discovering the precise location of your injury.
doctor looking at a spinal xray of a patient injured in an accident
female doctor

Treating sciatica

The Mayo Clinic notes that sciatica often improves with self-care measures like hot and cold therapy, stretching, and over the counter medications. If your symptoms don’t improve after self-treatment, your doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:

  • Prescribed medication: A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, or tricyclic antidepressants to treat sciatica pain.
  • Physical therapy: When the initial pain lessens, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to prevent future injuries. Common maneuvers include strengthening of the muscles that support your back, improving flexibility, and correcting posture.
  • Steroid injections: Corticosteroid injections to the nerve root may be recommended to lessen pain and inflammation. The effects of steroid injections will subdue pain for a few months before wearing off. Due to serious side effects, the number of steroid injections accident victims may receive is limited.
  • Surgery: Surgery is a last resort for treating sciatica pain when other treatment options fail to alleviate pain. If your compressed nerve results in considerable weakness, loss of bladder or bowel control, or your pain gradually accelerates – surgery may be necessary.

Skilled Car Accident Attorneys are Ready to Help

Car accident victims must seek medical treatment for their injuries as soon as possible. In severe injury cases, medical costs for treatment can become exorbitantly high but are, nonetheless, necessary. If the carelessness of another driver caused your car accident, you should be fully compensated for your medical costs, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

At The Barnes Firm, we understand how stressful and confusing this time can be for injured victims. Our team of experienced car accident attorneys is here to help you file a personal injury claim and receive maximum compensation so you can focus on your recovery. Our attorneys have won various awards and accreditations for their work helping clients, including Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. To schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorneys, please complete an online contact form or call our office at any time.