Neck and back problems are common injuries resulting from car accidents. These injuries are often bothersome and disruptive but can also be severe and extremely painful. Even a common whiplash injury can cause headaches and body stiffness leading to missed work and a compromised quality of life.
Sciatica pain is a frequent outcome for those injured in motor vehicle accidents either as a driver, a passenger, pedestrian or bicyclist. Here is what you need to know about Sciatica and how to pursue damages if you sustain this injury in a car accident.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is pain of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the longest one in your body and it starts in your lower back and runs through your hips, buttocks, legs, and feet. Its most common sign is radiating pain from the lower back into one or both legs.
Those suffering from sciatica may feel a varying spectrum of pain from a dull ache to an intense sharp pain. It may also be accompanied by tingling, numbness, and weakness in the legs and feet. Many people find it difficult to work even if they are employed in a sedentary desk job. In fact, sciatica pain is often aggravated by sitting more than with standing, lifting, and walking around.
Most patients diagnosed with sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50. People who are overweight or work jobs involving heavy lifting or prolonged sitting are most vulnerable to these symptoms. Diabetes also causes nerve damage that can lead to sciatica.
Serious symptoms of sciatica include severe pain or weakness and loss of bladder or bowel function. If you suffer these conditions, it is more likely you will require surgery.
How Do Car Accidents Cause Sciatica?
Sciatica may arise from a herniated disc in your lower back. Car accidents often cause herniated discs because the impact jostles the body and compromises the connective tissue which normally cushion the discs. When this tissue wears out due to injury or overuse, the disc starts to push on the nerve.
Insurance companies often fight these claims because sometimes the patient can have pre-existing conditions that left them vulnerable to sciatica. These may include previous back injuries, poor job conditions, and being overweight.
You can develop this condition after a car accident even if you do not have a history of back pain. Besides being the result of herniated discs, sciatica also results from blunt force trauma. So if you were hit as a pedestrian or bicyclist, you may develop sciatica despite a lack of previous history.
Even if you have a history of herniated or bulging discs, it is still possible that the car accident was the causative factor that pushed you into painful sciatica. Many people have herniated or bulging discs for years without any symptoms. It is only when they incur injuries from a car accident or fall that they become symptomatic and begin experiencing pain from sciatica. While it can be challenging to prove the link between the car accident and the development of this condition, it is still possible because that development is quite common.
What is Your Next Step?
First and foremost, seek treatment. Minor cases of sciatica may be treated conservatively with over-the-counter medication and physical therapy. Doctors also recommend using hot and cold packs to manage discomfort and support healing. Since sciatica may worsen with sedentary habits, it is likely you will be encouraged to exercise.
If your pain is more serious, your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers so you can rest better. Serious cases result in longer-term physical therapy and even spinal steroid injections. Patients who do not improve within three months may be referred for surgery.
Second, be aware that while you try to recover from sciatica, the opposing insurance company may attempt to sway you to settle early for a meager amount. Rather than endure this pressure, hire a personal injury attorney to manage your claim so you can focus on recovery. Even if you only suffer sciatica for a few weeks, that is a few weeks of pain, inconvenience, and time missed from work. You are entitled to compensation for that pain, impairment, and lost wages.
Sciatica is a painful condition and if you suffer from it through no fault of your own, you are entitled to damages. The Cagle Law Firm offers the experience and dedication you need to increase the chance of a successful personal injury claim. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.