Physical trauma can cause sciatica even if the symptoms don’t manifest right away. Accidents involving the spine, old injuries that never quite healed right, injuries that go without proper treatment, etc. all create potential problems of the spine. If that injury involves the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae (L4 and L5) the result can be a pinched sciatic nerve presenting itself as pain or other symptoms of sciatica.

It’s amazing how the body works to heal your sciatica. Even when it comes to bones, the body tries to repair bone and cartilage by growing more. Sometimes the body over compensates and the result is extra bone growth that appears as spurs or little nubs protruding from the bone. Bone spurs of the spine can put pressure against the spinal cord as they narrow the spinal column and/or put pressure on nerves at the spots where they exit the spine. When this happens between the L4 and L5 vertebrae, the sciatic nerve is affected. Fractures from injuries that have healed often have these types of spurs on them. So it isn’t uncommon for an old injury to raise its dreary head and manifest as sciatica.

Sometimes with physical trauma, swelling occurs or the body is in shock; until swelling goes down and the muscles relax, we may not even know that there has been any fracture to a bone-perhaps it was just a tiny “hairline” fracture. Meanwhile, the bone is trying to heal itself and will repair the tiny fractures. For a while after the injury we may feel fine, still not knowing that a fracture occurred but then the bone starts to overgrow in that area and starts pressing on the sciatic nerve.

Physical trauma can also injure the sciatic nerve itself and unfortunately, the nerve damage may be irreparable. Nerves can be injured by bones crushing on them, cuts, or they can be stretched to a point of tearing while the physical event is taking place. Any time you experience a physical trauma that is followed by pain and other symptoms of sciatica, you should inform your doctor-even if the pain doesn’t start until days, weeks, or even longer afterwards.

Filed under: Sciatic Nerve Problems

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