If you or someone you know has ever been in a serious car accident then you know pain and discomfort can immediately follow the force of impact. Many injuries and symptoms appear right away, like pain with cuts, the pressure and impact of the steering wheel, and your neck and back might even hurt from being jostled in your seat. One thing you may not know is that some injuries don’t always show symptoms right away and these delayed symptoms can occur hours and even days later. One type of pain and injury that can present with delayed onset is sciatica, and it is important to meet with a doctor after any type of car accident to find out if sciatica treatment or other treatments are right for you.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica refers to a type of pain that comes from the sciatic nerve and can radiate pain along one side of the lower body. The sciatic nerve is located in the lower back area and when pinched or otherwise injured, this can cause lower back pain and discomfort in one leg. Traumatic injuries such as those sustained in the lower back during a car accident can cause sciatica.
A common example of a pinched nerve is a herniated disc, which can be caused by car accidents because of the extreme jostling and jolting your body experiences. The discs in your spine are generally cushioned with connective tissues, and when that connective tissue is affected by an injury then the disc can start to press on the nerve. If you have a herniated disc as the result of a car accident, this may cause sciatica.
Other Back Injuries
For people who already struggle with lower back pain, a car accident can put strain and stress on an already compromised lower back, also causing sciatica. While a previous injury is not the only way to develop sciatica, it may become exacerbated by the trauma. Swelling in the lower back and leg region from other injuries can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Common symptoms of sciatica can include a tingling sensation that runs from the lower back and down the back of one leg, weakness or numbness alone one leg or foot, and pain and difficulty sitting. Severe symptoms of sciatica include numbness or weakness in the lower back and along one leg that presents right after a car accident or significant trauma to the lower back coupled with intense pain. Some experience sciatica pain as a mild discomfort or ache, while others say it feels like a sharp, burning pain.
Sudden versus Delayed Symptoms
The symptoms of sciatica can be sudden or delayed, depending on the severity of the injury and the body’s response to pain after a significant traumatic event like a car accident. Immediately following a car accident, you may find that your adrenaline is pumping so much that it is masking some pain symptoms. Once you are able to calm down after the crash, you may start to notice more significant back and leg pain symptoms.
A spine doctor will likely use diagnostic imaging tools such as an X-ray and CT scan to provide a clearer picture and more information about the injured area. An X-ray will show the doctor a detailed picture of the spine and affected bones in the area, while a CT scan will also include a 3D image that includes surrounding musculature, tissues, and nerves that may be damaged or otherwise injured.
While more mild cases of sciatica may go away on its own once swelling goes down and the area has time to heal, this is unfortunately not always the case. Most often a consultation with a medical professional is needed in order to identify the severity of the issue and prescribe a treatment plan specific to your body and your level of pain and discomfort. A doctor may recommend physical therapy and visits with a chiropractor for mild to moderate sciatica treatment plans for a less invasive approach. When necessary, your doctor may recommend surgery or surgical injections in more severe cases.
Car Accident Doctors
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort following a car accident, it can be helpful to seek sciatica treatment from car accident doctors who specialize in orthopedics and frequently treat car accident victims. AICA Orthopedics has a car accident clinic with a multidisciplinary team of car accident doctors including orthopedic specialists, neurologists, physical therapists, and chiropractors, all in one location, so you can receive the quality, comprehensive sciatica treatment you deserve.