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November 15, 2017

Sciatica and Car Accidents in Philadelphia: What You Need to Know

Car Accident Lawyers in PA

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is defined as pain, tingling, or numbness radiating down your legs from your lower back that is caused by irritation of certain spinal nerves. Because the sciatic nerve, which is located in the back of each leg, is injured or irritated in these cases, the condition is called sciatica. In layperson terms, sciatica is the medical word for lower back and leg pain, something from which a large percentage of Americans suffer. Because sciatica is often triggered by a herniated or bulging disc in the spinal column, it can sometimes result from natural spinal weakening and deterioration. However, traumatic spinal injuries caused by car crashes, which often damage the spine despite safety precautions, are a leading cause of sciatica, which can be harder to treat than you expect.

Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica

If you suffer from sciatica, it generally begins in your lower back or buttocks and radiates down your leg and foot. You may also experience weakness, tingling, or numbness in those areas. Unfortunately, because sciatica is nerve related, physical therapy and exercise often only deepen the pain, and many people will experience a worsening in symptoms if they stay in one position—for example, sitting, standing, or laying— for extended periods of time.

The severity of your symptoms depends on your age, health, and the nature of your injuries. While some individuals can remain sitting for an hour, others need to stand or walk around every 15 minutes to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with sciatica. Although a doctor can diagnose sciatica with a physical exam or simply by analyzing your medical history, such as a recent car accident, because sciatica is associated with more serious injuries, you may need either an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If you believe you are suffering from sciatica, look for the following symptoms of sciatic nerve pain:

  • Constant radiating pain on one side of the leg or buttock
  • Pain that worsens when sitting
  • Burning tingling, or searing pain as opposed to a dull ache
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg, foot, and toes
  • Sharp pain when standing or walking
  • Although sciatica is not a life-threatening injury, for those who suffer from it as the result of a traumatic car accident, it can be life-changing.

Sciatica and Your Lifestyle

The medical profession has always faced difficulty when it comes to treating spine and nerve injuries due to the complexity of our neurological systems. Accordingly, physicians can manage pain associated with sciatica and treat the symptoms, but there is no magic treatment for the condition itself. Accordingly, the near constant pain, numbness, and inability to sit or stand for long periods of time can greatly interfere with something attorneys refer to as “activities of daily living.” When litigating your case, although sciatica may seem minor compared to a severe spinal injury suffered in a car crash, you can still claim loss of enjoyment of life. For example, if you have difficulty sitting, standing, sleeping, reaching, bending, lifting, driving, or maintaining concentration at work as a result of sciatica, your attorney can request a certain allocation of damages for the impact this has had on your life. The sharp shooting pain that occurs when you stand or walk as a result of severe sciatica can stop you in your tracks, damaging your ability to cook, shop, drive, clean, or shower. In other words, it can harm every aspect of your life.

Trauma-Induced Sciatica

Sciatica results from the compression of the nerve root in your lumbar spine, including by non-traumatic causes such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, piriformis syndrome, and even spinal tumors. If you were not suffering from lower back pain before your car accident, however, degeneration due to disease is not the likely cause of your sciatica. Instead, if you’ve been in a recent car accident, sciatica results from two main causes: lumbar bulging/herniated discs or direct trauma. If you were in an accident, especially a rear-end type accident, the force of the impact may cause one of the gel-like discs that sits between your vertebra to slip out of position and push against the spinal nerves. Depending on its severity, this slip is called a herniation or bulge, but either way, the pressure the slipped disc puts on the nerve causes sciatica. Accordingly, sciatica is a secondary diagnosis as a result of a traumatic disc herniation. Direct trauma to the nerve itself, however, can also cause sciatica. This type of sciatica is commonly caused by a car accident when an external force directly compresses the nerve, such as in a crushing accident.

Seeking Compensation for Sciatica in Pennsylvania

Lower back pain as the result of nerve damage is more common than you may realize. Accordingly, defense attorneys will attempt to claim that your sciatica was not trauma induced and was instead the result of natural degeneration or a previous accident. For this reason, seek medical attention immediately after your accident if you are experiencing any type of lower back or leg pain. Furthermore, even if you were suffering from a degenerative disorder, if the car accident aggravated that pre-existing condition, resulting in sciatica, you are still entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. This is commonly called the “eggshell skull rule,” and it means that defendants must take their plaintiffs in the condition that they find them. A defendant cannot get out of compensating you for your pain made worse by the accident simply because the injury was pre-existing. This is often a difficult claim to make, however, because it requires extensive medical documentation—which an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you compile.

Call a Philadelphia Personal Injury and Back Pain Attorney Today

If you were injured in a car accident and suffer from back pain and sciatica that hurts every aspect of your life, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver. Don’t live in pain—get the compensation you deserve so you can work on your recovery. The Levin Firm has the experienced Philadelphia back pain and car accident attorneys you need to help you fight for your right to compensation after a traumatic accident. Contact them today for a free, no-risk consultation online or at (215) 825-5183.

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