What is this shooting pain down leg from car accident?
May 25, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

What is causing this shooting pain from my right gluteus down my leg?

I was in a car wreck 4 weeks ago. Following the accident I had bad lower back and chest pain. 2 weeks later I went to a chiropractor and masseuse to help with the pain. My back and chest have gotten a lot better, but about 1 week ago after one of the massages, my right leg starting hurting incredibly. It hurts from the lower gluteus down the hamstring, then is excruciating in my outer lower leg and my foot is 1/2 numb. I thought it was a fluke at the time, but it has stayed this way for a week now. My chiro kind of plays it off and says that it will heal with time if I'm in alignment. Is there anything I can do to fix this? Should I go to a doctor? If so, what kind of doctor? Also, this is kind of a side note, but has anyone used CBT therapy online for depression? If so, did it work, or was it a sham? Thank you very much for your time and answers. Have a great day!
posted by gibbsjd77 to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you not been to a doctor since the car wreck? Absolutely you should go to a doctor. A family practice doc would be a good start and will likely be required by your insurance before getting a referral to a specialist (if you have insurance).

Getting your bases covered early in case any of these bills go through the auto insurance of the people involved is very important (and honestly should have been done immediately, but better late than never).
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:41 AM on May 25, 2010

Sounds a lot like Sciatica.

and it's hard to say what the cause could be between the car accident and chrio treatment.
posted by royalsong at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2010

Strongly recommend your seeing a doctor. Could be a lower back problem causing sciatica. Best to check it out.
posted by KneeDeep at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2010

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in this sort of thing. One will be able to tell you if it's something like a herniated disc or piriformis syndrome or whatever.

From what I've read, the outcome with chiropractic is only slightly better than the outcome for not doing anything, and that most back pain will go away by itself in six weeks, so ...
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2010

posted by schmoppa at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2010

Anything causing numbness is probably nerve involvement and needs a doc ASAP.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2010

oop, and IANAD and certainly not yours. Listen to Pantengliopoli.
posted by royalsong at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2010

Thank everyone, I"m going to make an appointment with a orthopedic doctor.
posted by gibbsjd77 at 11:44 AM on May 25, 2010

Sounds like a nerve impingement. What kind of work-up did you have after the accident? Any imaging studies? You need to go to a doctor. Chiropractors are great for some types of treatment, but severe pain and numbness absolutely indicate a trip to the doctor. Hot packs and advil until your appointment. I'd avoid any stretching or strenuous activity in case there's a slipped disc or fracture causing your symptoms. Good luck.
posted by tetralix at 11:46 AM on May 25, 2010

You say:
"lower back and CHEST PAIN" [emphasis mine]
"hurting incredibly"
"stayed this way for a week"

I can't think of a reason you should not see a doctor. An MD, not a chiropractor. Pardon my obvious bias, but chiropractors are in the business of selling multiple series of visits to "keep you in alignment." When yours said "... if you're in alignment" that should've been a red flag to you.

If you don't have a general practitioner or internist, make an appointment with an orthopedist. It might be sciatica but it might be something else. You need x-rays to start.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:49 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Data point: I had this exact symptom, and it turned out to be sciatica. Massage actually made it worse, because (so says my former physical therapist) when the muscles were rigid, even though they weren't doing their job 100% correctly, they were still keeping everything more-or-less in place. Relaxation let stuff slip into an even worse configuration.

The solution was painkillers (in the short term), and some core-strengthening PT-- and the pain went away relatively quickly once I got medical advice and started addressing it.

Good luck. I know this is horrible. I hope you'll recover as quickly as I did.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:49 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sounds like what I had except it took me years to figure it out. My issue was nerve impingement in the lumbar and while a chiropractor helped a lot with the acute issues I had to see a physiotherapist and work on strengthening core and back muscles before I rid myself of that particular pain.
posted by GuyZero at 11:54 AM on May 25, 2010

Nthing MD + PT. Especially with the relatively sudden onset of the pain (post-massage?). Ibuprofen (brand name Advil) (IANAD, IANAPT) may help with the pain in the short term.
posted by purlgurly at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2010

IANAD either but this sounds exactly like Sciatica - especially with the numbness. Something which I am currently recovering from, I ended up with strong painkillers and something to help me sleep which seems to have relaxed the muscles which were squashing the nerve.

For the long term I'm due to see a Physiotherapist to improve my core muscles which apparently will help.

I hope you get it sorted out quickly.
posted by Morsey at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2010

IANYD, but I suggest you see your primary care doctor and not an orthopedist.

Although orthopedists do deal mainly with bone/joint/muscle issues, there doesn't seem to be any reason why you require a specialist at this time, so you'd probably be paying a higher co-pay for no reason. I agree that it sounds like nerve impingement/sciatica, could be something else too, but if it is related to a disc issue the good news is that it usually resolves on its own with rest and NSAIDs like ibuprofen/Motrin within about 4-6 weeks (from the massage incident that seems to have caused it, not from your accident). You may find this Mayo Clinic link more readable for a lay person than the Wikipedia article linked above.

Your primary care doctor will be in a much better position than we are to evaluate whether you need a specialist.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:13 PM on May 25, 2010

Nth-ing some kind of sciatic nerve inflammation or impingement. IANAD, but I am a researcher who studies nerve injury and uses the sciatic nerve as a model, and I've also had piriformis syndrome, which produces exactly the same symptoms you are describing.

The orthopedist is a good place to start, but my feeling is that you will need to pay some visits to a PT to work on muscle strengthening. As some anecdata, my chiropractor/masseuse who does Active Release Treatment has been way more helpful than my orthopedist, my GP, or my PT with regards to various soft-tissue problems I've had (piriformis and IT band). But don't ever go back to that chiro/masseuse who "downplayed" your excruciating nerve pain -- that's the hallmark of someone who wants your $$$ more than they want for you to get better. There are many chiropractors who are capable and useful assets for this sort of thing, but they seem to be outnumbered by the chiropractors who are quacking all the way to the bank and wanting to "align" you.
posted by kataclysm at 12:14 PM on May 25, 2010

My chiro kind of plays it off and says that it will heal with time if I'm in alignment.

This man is a quack and should not be trusted.

Your primary care doctor will be in a much better position than we are to evaluate whether you need a specialist.

Not in my experience. They tell you to take 2 weeks easy and pop ibuprofen. Then you get to do PT. Then you see a specialist. Nonsense. See a specialist first if you have the option. I have some permanent nerve damage due to the time it took to actually see a specialist and get in to surgery thanks to a primary care doc making me jump through hoops to get a referral.

Anything causing numbness is probably nerve involvement and needs a doc ASAP.

posted by anti social order at 2:00 PM on May 25, 2010

seconding anti social order. Try to see a specialist right away. Lower back pain -> leg pain usually means sciatica. In fact, pain into hamstring, pain on the outside of the calf, numbness in the foot? That's me. Down to the car accident, even. IANAD, but I'll bet you the doctor you see talks to you about L5 disc injuries.

Ask the doctor (or physical therapist) about Treat Your Own Back, and if the book is right for you. Mind you, you shouldn't be treating yourself entirely. The book suggests things that go well with treatment and PT.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:27 PM on May 25, 2010

I have sciatic issues as well, and if the rest of your body can handle some good stretching routines, I've had amazing results from doing piriformis stretches such as this. The pain in the backs of my legs simply disappears.

IANAD, blah blah.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:40 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get your kidneys checked.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:30 PM on May 25, 2010

I had almost these exact symptoms (sharp pain running down my outer right leg, numbness on the bottom of my foot) and they lasted for years. It was finally diagnosed as sciatica - in specific, L5 stenosis. What seemed to help was an epidural cortisone injection where the doctor used a fluoroscope to guide it right the inflamed nerve (I had an earlier one where it seemed like they just guessed at the injection point and it didn't do much of anything) combined with daily stretching.
posted by zombiedance at 10:02 PM on May 25, 2010

I can't really help with what the pain is, I nth everyone above who's said see a doctor, but if you choose not to for some reason try going to a few sessions with an alexander technique practictioner - the one I've been to was able to spot some fairly minor postural imbalances on me that ended up causing me a world of pain in my knee. In the car accident you may have suffered some muscular trauma and as a consequence you may be holding some residual tension somewhere which is throwing the rest of you out of whack - its probably a long shot though, it'd have to be pretty severe to be causing numbness but it's always an option
posted by parryb at 10:26 PM on May 26, 2010

Thank you so much everyone. I really appreciate your advice. I'm hoping to get an apt this Friday, or next Wednesday at the worst. Have a great day!
posted by gibbsjd77 at 8:33 AM on May 27, 2010

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