Dealing With Sciatica During Pregnancy
The sciatic nerve is located in the lower back all the way down to the end of the legs and extends to the feet. It’s the nerve responsible for allowing you to feel different sensations and moving the muscles in the legs. When inflammation or pressure is coming from the back, you will most likely experience sciatica pain.
Sciatica is usually brought about by an injured or slipped disc in your spine. Many times, you can have this type of pain with or without experiencing any pain in the back, but you will most likely feel pain down one of the legs.
Does pregnancy cause sciatica?
As opposed to popular belief, pregnancy is not one of the causes of sciatica. It’s not caused by the baby pressing on a nerve while inside your womb. This condition is most often a result of a damaged disc in the spine that leads to swelling or inflammation around the affected nerve.
While being pregnant, women may experience certain pains and aches in their pelvis and back. However, this type of pain is not typically associated with the sciatic nerve. The discomfort is most likely to be brought out by pelvic girdle pain or PGP. This pain is much more common during pregnancy and has similar symptoms as sciatica pain.
Pregnancy itself does not contribute to damaging a disc in the spine. The most common causes of sciatica are doing activities that make the body vibrate. These activities include lifting heavy objects and operating heavy machinery. Thus, it’s not likely that pregnant women are doing any type of these activities while they are pregnant, which is another reason that pelvic girdle pain is the more common cause of pregnant women’s aches and pains.
However, sitting for long periods of time and having poor posture can often lead to sciatica. So while pregnancy is not one of the root causes of sciatica, pregnant women may still feel this kind of pain if they don’t stay active even while during pregnancy.
How do you know if you have sciatica?
Sciatica pain feels like there is a sharp shooting and burning pain that just comes and goes and is only affecting one side of the body. The pain may even be felt in the lower back area, as well as the back of the thigh and down the outer side of the calf and to the feet and toes. If there is lower back pain, the ache you are experiencing down the buttocks and legs is way worse than the pain in the lower back.
There may also be some tingling in the leg and pins and needles or numbness in the leg or foot. The pain may be irregular or consistent. As compared to pelvic girdle pain, sciatica pain is more constant and extremely wearing.
How can sciatica be treated?
Consult with your general medical practitioner or your midwife and ask a referral for a musculoskeletal physiotherapist or chiropractor who specializes in women’s health. The physiotherapist will recommend exercises to support the stomach muscles, back, and pelvis. You will also be shown how to have good posture. Having a care plan throughout your pregnancy is an effective strategy.
According to research, 60 percent of pregnant women with acute sciatica will most likely feel better within ten days to three weeks of constant treatment. And 75 percent will fully recover within four to 12 weeks. However, it’s not unlikely for the symptoms to remain longer.
Over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol can be taken to alleviate sciatica pain. However, there’s not a lot of evidence to prove that it’s an effective way to ease the pain. Consult with your doctor or a pharmacist to see how many painkillers to take and how long to take it. Please keep in mind that it’s not advised for pregnant women to take ibuprofen, especially if you are already in your third trimester.
Other alternative methods to treat sciatica are osteopathy and acupuncture. Just remember to see a specialist who is experienced in dealing with pregnancy.
- Use a hot compress or ice pack in the painful area to alleviate the pain. Alternate between cold and warm packs.
- Try to keep an active lifestyle throughout your pregnancy. Don’t stay still for long periods of time.
- Watch your posture and keep a slightly arched back.
- Avoid lifting any heavy objects or doing any strenuous activities.
- Do pregnancy-friendly stretches and exercises to relieve and avoid sciatica pain.