Can a Car Accident Cause Sciatica?

Nov 15, 2022

Can a Car Accident Cause SciaticaSciatica is a condition that is directly related to the sciatica nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back into the buttocks and down through the legs. This is a common ailment among older people, specifically those who have lost mobility or who suffer from spinal degeneration. But it isn’t just the elderly that can be affected by sciatica.

It can also be caused by a car accident as well. Trauma from a car accident is known to cause all kinds of damage to the body, specifically the musculoskeletal system. The impact of a car accident can lead to car accident injuries that are directly linked to sciatica. Unfortunately, the pain associated with this condition can affect the overall quality of life as it can limit movement and overall mobility. If this is the case, you should seek medical care from qualified and experienced medical professionals who can treat your pain to bring about relief and a return to normal life once again.

What Is Sciatica?

Quality Care at AICA for sciaticaSciatica can be defined as pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, located in the lower back and branching out into the buttocks and legs. It usually affects just one side of the body and can range from a dull, mild ache to sharp, severe pain. For most people, sciatica is a direct result of deterioration of the spine or long-term wear and tear. It is most commonly diagnosed in people ages 30 to 50. However, traumatic spinal cord injuries such as those sustained in a car accident can also be a cause of sciatica.

Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica is often accompanied by signs and symptoms that are unique and recognizable.

Symptoms of sciatica can include shooting pain down the back and legs, numbness, weakness in the legs, or a pins and needles, tingling-like sensation that may extend into the feet and toes.

Other symptoms might include difficulty with motor function in the legs, feet, and toes, or a sharp pain when standing or walking. Sitting for extended periods of time will likely only cause symptoms to worsen or intensify. The pain associated with sciatica is usually described as “radiating”, and will vary in severity from person to person. For some, symptoms can go away in a matter of days, while for others, it could take up to eight weeks or longer for symptoms to subside. If sciatica doesn’t go away, it could be chronic sciatica that may require intensive treatment options, including surgery, to repair. It is important to be aware that spinal and back injuries can be complex. There could be multiple reasons for the symptoms of sciatica that you are experiencing.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to receive a proper diagnosis and ensure you are not at risk of other injuries or complications as a result.

How Can a Car Accident Cause Sciatica?

In short, yes, a car accident can be a cause of sciatica. How does this happen? Trauma from the accident is almost always the cause of sciatica, as it can cause the sciatic nerve to become compressed, pinched, or irritated. As a result, the sciatic nerve will respond and can send pain through the lower back, buttocks, and legs. For many people, trauma from a car crash will cause back pain as well as can lead to herniated or bulging discs. Discs in between vertebrae are made of soft tissue that can be damaged in a car accident and forced out of place. In turn, these out-of-place discs will press on a nerve which can cause significant pain.

Sometimes, these car accident injuries are new and a direct result of the crash. For sciatica, a car accident is one instance when back pain related to the accident, even when there was no previous history of back pain, could be enough to bring about sciatic pain. Often, however, the car accident has exacerbated pre-existing injuries such as degenerative disc disease, resulting in sciatica. Broken bones or fractures because of a car accident can also press upon the sciatic nerve and be the underlying cause of sciatica pain and discomfort. Ultimately, the type of blunt force trauma one suffers from being in a car accident can cause serious damage to the body, specifically the spine, and lead to any number of problems, sciatica included.

Medical Care for Sciatic

When speaking to a doctor, it is imperative that you are able to provide as much information as possible to ensure the doctor is able to accurately diagnose all car accident injuries. For instance, providing answers to these common questions is a great place to start:

  • When did your symptoms start?
  • Where is your pain located?
  • When does your pain occur? What are you doing when it occurs, or what time of day does it occur most often?
  • How long ago was your car accident?
  • What types of injuries did you suffer?
  • Where were you sitting in the car?
  • What type of car accident was it, front, side, or rear?

As soon as possible, get in to see your doctor after a car accident. Be sure to be thorough in sharing the details of your symptoms, as it can help doctors come to a proper diagnosis and identify the root cause of your pain. Many types of car accident injuries are known as delayed injuries, meaning it can take several days or weeks for the injuries to manifest themselves. The sooner you get in to see a doctor, the sooner you can receive the care needed to make a full recovery.

Sciatica Testing, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Upon examination, if your doctor feels you have sciatica, there are several imaging tests that may be ordered to confirm this diagnosis. The most common imaging tests for diagnosing sciatica include:

  • X-Rays – Images of the internal bones, tissue, and organs shown on film
  • MRIs – Magnetic Resonance Imaging that uses radiofrequency to send 3D images of the body, such as organs, bones, soft tissue, ligaments, or tendons, to a computer
  • EMGs – Electromyography is a procedure that shows electrical muscle impulses. Thin needles are placed in the body to record this electrical activity.
  • NCSs – Nerve Conduction Studies are usually conducted alongside EMGs to determine if nerves are working properly. Electrodes are placed along the nerve pathway, and the nerve is stimulated to help determine if there is an injury to a specific site.

Any number of these tests may aid in confirming a sciatica diagnosis to move forward with necessary treatment. Treatment for sciatica starts with rest. Physical therapy is another course of action often prescribed to help alleviate sciatica pain. Chiropractic care is another treatment option to move herniated discs back into their proper place. Once this occurs, it can alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve that is causing so much discomfort. As you go through physical therapy or chiropractic care, pain management specialists can also assist in providing comfort and easing pain. Medication to reduce swelling and inflammation can be given. Injections are also another option to eliminate inflammation that could cause discs or vertebrae to press upon the sciatic nerve. Warm or cold compresses applied to the injury can also help to ease the pain. In more serious cases of sciatica, more aggressive treatment can be required, including surgery for those in extreme pain or whose condition is not improving over time.


Mild cases of sciatica may only take a few weeks to fully recover from. But, if your sciatica pain is significant or your car accident injury severe, it is possible that it could take several months to recover from sciatica. Chronic sciatica, or sciatica that reoccurs and doesn’t get better over time, could be a much longer recovery process. For some, sciatica is a lifelong problem and a condition that will affect their quality of life. It is important to take your car accident injury seriously and listen to your doctors and other medical professionals to establish an effective treatment plan to manage sciatica pain and find relief from discomfort and lifestyle limitations.

Quality Care at AICA

Quality Care at AICA for sciaticaIf you have suffered car accident injuries, don’t lose hope. Our team of medical professionals at AICA in Tucker has helped many recover from their car accident injuries, and we can help you too.

From examinations, testing, and diagnosis to physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain management, and other treatment options, we have it all in one convenient place at AICA Tucker.

If you have been injured in a car accident and believe you are suffering from symptoms of sciatica, contact our offices today for an expert evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plan. Our knowledgeable medical professionals will have you back on your feet as soon as possible.

You don’t have to live with sciatica pain any longer. For more information about what we can do for you, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule your appointment at AICA Tucker today.


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