Updated: Jul 28
It may surprise you to learn that there is actually no known medical condition called "drivers leg syndrome" or "truckers leg syndrome" no matter how many times you hear it mentioned at local truck stops and over the radio.
However, there are several conditions that truck drivers may be susceptible to due to the nature of their work that could be referred to as such due to long hours of sitting and driving. Driving with sciatica pain is very uncomfortable, depending on the severity of pain and the length of time sitting behind the wheel.
So let's first identify what driving with sciatica pain looks like, some of the possible medical conditions that could be occurring, and how to relieve sciatica pain over long drives that require a lot of sitting.
What do the Symptoms of Sciatica Pain While Driving Look Like
While we need to be cautious self-diagnosing ourselves or panicking while surfing WebMD, there are some common symptoms that could point to sciatic issues. These are a few of the most commonly reported:
Sharp or shooting pain that radiates from the lower back or buttocks down the back or side of the legs.
Numbness or tingling in the legs, feet, or toes.
Weakness in the legs, making it difficult to lift or move them.
Difficulty sitting for prolonged periods, as this can aggravate the nerve and increase pain.
Worsening pain, aggravated by certain movements such as twisting or bending.
Pain that improves with standing. Some people with sciatica issues may find that their pain improves when they stand up or walk around.
Conditions That Could Be Considered Drivers Leg Syndrome
While we in the trucking business may refer to the pain that comes from sitting too long "driver's leg syndrome," there are multiple other medical conditions that could be the actual condition an individual is dealing with.
Everyone's experience and body type are different, so it's important to see a medical professional if sciatica pain becomes unbearable or interferes with your ability to work. Having said that, these may be a few places to begin honing in on a diagnosis.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
One such condition is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the legs. Sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk of developing DVT. Symptoms of DVT include swelling, pain, and warmth in the affected leg.
General Lower Back Pain
Another condition that truck drivers may be more susceptible to is lower back pain, which can be caused by the long hours of sitting and the constant vibrations from the truck. Other conditions that can be associated with truck driving include obesity, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.
Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, which is located in the buttock region, becomes tight or spasms, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs beneath it. This can result in pain, numbness, or tingling in the buttock and down the leg.
The symptoms of piriformis syndrome can be similar to those of sciatica, which is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. However, to someone driving with sciatica pain, the distinction doesn't matter much, but your physician will need to know the origin to know how to help you relieve the pain.
How to Avoid Sciatica Pain or Relieve Drivers Leg Syndrome
It is important for truck drivers to take frequent breaks to stretch and move around, maintain a healthy diet, and get regular exercise to prevent these conditions. If any symptoms develop, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
However, if you are experiencing pain now, these remedies may provide some comfort or at least reduce the pain you are in.
Rest and ice. Resting the affected area and applying ice packs for 20-30 minutes at a time can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Stretching and exercise. Stretching the piriformis muscle and doing exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles can help to reduce tension in the muscle and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. A physical therapist can provide guidance on appropriate exercises.
Massage and manual therapy. Massage and other manual therapies can help to loosen the piriformis muscle and reduce pain and stiffness.
Medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be helpful in managing pain.
Injections. Corticosteroid injections into the piriformis muscle can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Those who have used injections have reported mixed experiences for the level of pain relief received.
In severe cases where conservative treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary to release the piriformis muscle and decompress the sciatic nerve. It's important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Listen to Your Legs
It's important to note that these conditions can affect anyone, not just drivers, and anyone who experiences persistent leg pain, swelling, or other symptoms should seek medical attention. Additionally, taking breaks to stretch and move around during long car trips or flights can help reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
If you're driving over long distances or just behind the wheel all day, you'll want to ensure that your seat is comfortable and that the truck is outfitted with proper shocks to ensure the smoothest ride possible for both you and your cargo.
If you're looking for a place with a smooth ride, an up-to-date fleet of modernized trucks, and work-life balance, apply at Veltri today and receive great benefits, great pay, and a better seat!