How to Prevent Leg Pain While Driving: Tips for Travelers

What causes leg or knee pain while driving? Find out what you can do if you have leg pain while driving to remain safe behind the wheel. If you are in an accident because of knee pain, find out whether your car insurance will cover your losses.

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How to Prevent Leg Pain While Driving: Tips for Travelers

Whether you spend a lot of time in your car or not very much at all, experiencing leg pain while driving can be unpleasant. There are many potential causes of leg pain while driving—so taking the time to become familiar with some of these causes and possible treatments is important if you're experiencing this discomfort. With a bit of treatment and perhaps a visit to your doctor, you can be feeling more comfortable behind the wheel once again.

What Causes Leg Pain While Driving?

Most people who report leg pain while driving will experience it in the form of a sharp, shooting pain that may throb through one or both legs. In some cases, the pain may be alleviated by taking the foot off the accelerator and using cruise control, but many drivers experience persistent discomfort the entire time they're behind the wheel.

The most common cause of leg pain while driving is a condition known as sciatica. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs through the lower back and into the thigh area) becomes pinched or otherwise obstructed over time. This can result in persistent pain that shoots through the lower back and one (or both) legs, especially when the person is seated. 

When seated in a vehicle, you are putting direct pressure on your sciatic nerve. While pressing the accelerator, you are applying even more force to that area of your lower back. This is a recipe for discomfort. As a result, you may find yourself looking for excuses to get out of driving. If you work a job that requires you to operate a vehicle, your work days may be very long and uncomfortable.

Sciatica can develop over time, especially among those who spend a lot of time seated behind the wheel; it is not surprising, then, that this condition is so common among truck drivers. Still, it can happen to anyone—with other potential causes including bone and muscle abnormalities, spinal cord disorders, and even tumors within the pelvis.

What About Knee Pain While Driving?

What if your leg pain while driving is more focused around the knee area? If this is the case, you may be suffering from a condition known as chondromalacia patellae (CMP for short). This condition is most common among those who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, resulting in the gradual deterioration of the cartilage located underneath the knee caps. In some cases, however, this degeneration can occur as a result of other things, such as unrelated injuries or even aging.

Treating and Avoiding Leg Pain While Driving

If you're experiencing leg pain while driving, your best bet is to schedule an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation and diagnosis. The good news is that sciatica is treatable through chiropractic care and other non-invasive treatments, in most cases. CMP treatment can vary depending on the severity of your pain.

In the meantime, you may be able to find some relief from your leg pain while driving by adjusting the positioning of your seat while behind the wheel. Many drivers can find some relief from knee pain if they move their seats back until their legs are almost completely straight out in front of them. 

For drivers suffering from sciatic nerve pain, investing in a quality lumbar support cushion that is specifically designed for use while driving may also provide relief. Of course, these are just ideas for temporary pain relief and should not be considered an alternative to seeking medical care and treatment from a doctor.

More than likely, your auto insurance will not cover expenses related to treating leg pain while driving unless your injuries were caused in an auto accident or other covered claim. Still, if you have medical insurance, some or all of your treatment may be covered so you can work towards getting the relief you need without paying too much out-of-pocket.