Car and workplace accidents frequently cause back injuries. Often painful, limiting, and irritating, they can be difficult to treat and often meet resistance from insurance adjusters and workers’ compensation carriers.
Sciatica is just one possibility when you face a back injury. Here is what you need to know about sciatica and how it arises from accidents.
Sciatica describes pain that radiates from the lower back to one or both legs. It is related to the sciatic nerve which runs through all these areas, as well the feet. Pain ranges from a dull ache to sharp and stabbing.
Besides pain, patients also describe numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness throughout the legs and feet. It often improves with movement but people who work sedentary desk jobs are more likely to be bothered by sciatica. Doctors often encourage light exercise after a sciatica diagnosis because that reduces symptoms better than staying still. After a long day of sitting in a desk, patients often report stiffness, pain, and exhaustion that discourages movement. This can make the sciatica worse.
Sciatica affects people between the ages of 30 and 50 the most. Pre-existing conditions that can leave people more vulnerable include being overweight or constant heavy lifting. While light exercise can relieve symptoms, pushing your body beyond its limits can exacerbate the condition.
The most serious cases include loss of bladder or bowel control. Severe pain and weakness can make needed movement impossible. If your sciatica condition becomes this serious, you likely require surgery to reverse it.
Accidents and Sciatica
Sciatica arises from bulging or herniated discs, priformis muscle injuries, and blunt force trauma. Even if you never experienced back pain before, a slip and fall, workplace impact or car accident can lead to sciatica symptoms. It is often just a matter of hitting or straining your back in just the right way to irritate the sciatic nerve and lead to the radiating and tingling pain of this condition.
Car accidents cause sciatica by the sudden jarring of the spine on impact. If you experienced a back injury before the collision, this may lead to re-injury even if your condition was resolved. Also, sciatica may be a new symptom for you even if you never injured your back or neck before the accident.
Workplace and construction accidents cause sciatica through back strains or blunt force trauma. Besides repetitive heavy lifting, falling from a ladder, tripping and falling or even taking a blow from equipment strains muscles and causes internal bruising that leads to sciatic pain. Many patients report that they felt numbness and weakness in their lower extremities after impact and may even assumed the injury paralyzed them.
If you have a pre-existing back condition, insurance companies are likely to resist settling your claim. While the law advances the idea of the “eggshell plaintiff” which renders most previous medical conditions irrelevant, the insurer still embrace the idea that your pain and sciatica are the result of a previous medical condition or your inability to take care of yourself–not the accident. Proving that an accident enhanced a previous condition is not impossible but it can be challenging.
Is Sciatica Affecting You?
First, seek and finish treatment. Even if you feel better, continue physical therapy and other treatment until you fulfill your doctor’s recommendations. Minor symptoms are usually treated with light exercise, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain relief. If you are unable to sleep, doctors may prescribe stronger painkillers so you can rest better.
If symptoms fail to resolve, doctors will usually extend your physical therapy prescription and recommend steroid injections. Surgery may become an option too, especially if you are unable to work or lack bowel or bladder control.
Finishing treatment is especially important if you previously suffered a back injury. Staying compliant shows you are committed to getting well and produces a strong medical record that shows the accident is the cause of your worsening condition.
Second, realize most insurance companies do not wish to deal with back injuries. They may attempt to sway you to settle before finishing treatment. Some adjusters work to exhaust claimants through constant calls and inquiries just to make you want to conclude the matter. Hiring a personal injury is very helpful in this area because while you focus on recovery, we can handle insurance company inquiries and keep them updated as to your treatment.
Sciatica is an annoying and painful condition that limits both work and personal endeavors. You deserve proper compensation if you developed it due to the negligence of another person. If you suffer injuries after a workplace or auto accident, contact The Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill today to schedule your free case evaluation.