After a car accident, you are likely on the lookout for symptoms that indicate an injury. If you notice pain accompanied by muscle weakness or numbness in the lower back, legs, or even feet, sciatica should be on the list of things you are concerned about. The sciatic nerve, which spans from your lower back down the buttocks to your legs and feet, is the largest nerve in the body and any damage can cause pain in one or both sides of the body. While this is often caused by aging or other conditions, it is also a common diagnosis from a car accident chiropractor.
Sciatica After a Car Accident
One of the ways sciatica can be brought on is by a pinched nerve, which often results from a herniated disc in your spine. These discs are soft, gel-like structures between the vertebrae meant to absorb shock and prevent friction. The impact of trauma like a car accident can cause these discs to be knocked out of place, to rupture, or to damage the surrounding tissue. Any of these outcomes can pinch the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and other symptoms of sciatica.
Back injuries are one of the most common forms of injury resulting from a car accident, and many common back injuries can lead to sciatic pain. Another scenario that may cause this is a broken bone whose fragment gets loose and compresses the sciatic nerve. Even when the initial result of the impact is not this condition, it can occur over time with an untreated back injury.
Sciatica usually appears as a result of degenerative disc disease or aging and loss of mobility, however, car accidents are one instance where no history of back pain or injury is required for a diagnosis. When the impact is great enough, the spine can be damaged enough to bring on sciatic pain where no indicators were present before.
Seeking Care for Sciatica
No matter if you are presenting symptoms or not, you should always visit a car accident chiropractor as soon as possible following an accident. However, a number of symptoms mean you should seek treatment quickly, including:
- Constant pain in one side of the buttocks or one leg
- Burning or tingling in one leg, may worsen when sitting
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg and foot
- Inability to bend the foot upward at the ankle- known as “foot drop”
- Sharp pain that makes it difficult to stand up and walk
When you get to the doctor, you will want to make sure to share details about any of these symptoms, including when they began. You will likely go into some detail about what occurred during your car accident as well, as it can help them to make a proper diagnosis and more easily identify the root cause of your pain.
Treatments for Sciatica
If you may have sciatica, your doctor will likely want to confirm with diagnostic imaging. They may send you for an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan in order to highlight the cause of your sciatic pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan. From there, you may use a combination of treatments.
There are many ways to get relief from sciatica. Chiropractic care is commonly used as the first line of defense against sciatica, helping the spine to realign and relieve pressure from the nerve. As you go through adjustments, you may also work with a pain management specialist or physical therapist to create an easier recovery. Even in an acute case, sciatica can take months to heal completely, depending on the severity.
In more serious cases, orthopedists and neurologists may be brought in for less conservative treatment, including surgical options. Other methods may include steroid injections or anti-inflammatory medicines that relieve pressure on the nerve.
While a car accident chiropractor will try to take a non-invasive approach, a team of specialists can also determine the best way to heal is through more drastic measures. Many cases of sciatica that result from car accident injuries are acute cases, meaning they can be healed in time. Some people will go on to suffer from chronic sciatica for months or even years at a time, requiring ongoing treatment.
If you believe you are suffering from sciatica or have recently been in a car accident, contact AICA Atlanta today for an expert evaluation today. Our team of chiropractors and other specialists will work together to create a holistic treatment plan to help you recover from the pain.