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Sciatica During Pregnancy

by Melissa Bell
4 minutes read

Being able to have children is a beautiful thing, however, growing a baby inside of you can add some physical and emotional strains to your body. You have probably already been warned by family and friends about morning sickness, mood swings and tiredness but has anyone mentioned sciatica? A staggering 50% to 80% of women experience sciatica during their pregnancy.

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica, also known as lumbosacral radicular syndrome, is caused when the sciatic nerve is irritated. Your sciatic nerve starts in the lower spine and ends in the thigh. It can cause a deep, dull pain or a sharp, shooting pain. The sciatic nerve is the largest in your body, it starts in your lower back and runs down the buttocks and branches down the back of your legs, to your ankles and feet.

sciatica pain

How Is Sciatica Diagnosed?

During your examination, your doctor may check your muscle strength and reflexes. For example, you will carry out a series of movements which will make sciatica pain worse, this is to diagnose the pain properly.

You may also have some image tests such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and electromyography, these tests will show herniated discs or bone spurs. Doctors don’t usually order these tests unless the pain is severe or doesn’t improve within a few weeks.

Sciatica During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the babies weight and position can put extra pressure on your spine which can easily compress the sciatic nerve located in your lower back. The result of this is pain in different strengths that tend to radiate down into the leg. Take extra care with this as the pressure on your spine will increase as the baby grows daily.

Other causes of sciatica during pregnancy are weight gain, fluid retention, uterus expansion, your stomach growing, your baby resting on the nerve or a slipped disc, although this is less common.

What You Need To Know About Sciatica During Pregnancy

Sciatica will most likely occur during your third trimester as this is when you and your baby are bulking up the most. Most women experience pain on one side of the body but it is not unknown for you to feel it in both legs. Sciatica pain can be constant or intermittent, this is depending on the amount of pressure on the nerve. Pain may increase as you gain more pregnancy weight and retain more fluid. Unfortunately, the pain can last for a few months after you have given birth as well. Losing excess weight and fluid will help to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

Symptoms of Sciatica Pregnancy Pain

The main symptom of sciatica is pain in your lower back, buttocks and legs. Other symptoms include:

  • Poor bladder control
  • Pins and needles in the legs
  • Weakness
  • Burning sensations
  • Pain which gets worse with movement, coughing or sneezing.

If you are experiencing these symptoms you should mention this to your doctor. Usually, the pain can be relieved with home remedies.

Sciatica Pain Relief Remedies

Some of the pain relief remedies that may work for you are outlined below

  • Use a warm compress on the area where you feel the pain.
  • Rest in a comfortable position.
  • Sleep on the side of your body which is pain free
  • Gentle exercises and stretches.
  • Swimming can help take away the pressure.

In addition to this, there are a range of Sciatica Treatments at Home such as exercises stretches and other methods that are designed to ease the pain experienced with Sciatica.

How Is Sciatica Treated?

Your doctor will more than likely suggest some simple stretches and exercises to start with or they may refer you to a physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will help you to strengthen your pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and back muscles. Other treatments include acupuncture, osteopathy and chiropractic therapies. Around half of people with sciatica feel better within 10 days up to two weeks however symptoms can last a lot longer.

It is important to listen to your body and stop activities which cause sciatic pain to get worse. You should always speak to your doctor before starting any treatments yourself. If you have any symptoms including dizziness, headaches or bleeding, stop what you’re doing and seek medical help.

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