Carrying extra weight when you are pregnant is difficult. Imagine that in addition to the weight of the belly, the pregnant woman may still suffer pain in the buttocks, hips and thigh because of a well-known nerve: the sciatic nerve. Find out what it is, what causes it and how to treat sciatica during pregnancy.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica, also known as lumbosacral root syndrome , is caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve that begins in the lumbar or lower spine and ends in the thigh.
It can be a deep pain, a boring pain or a sharp pain. Sciatica can range from mild to severe. It often improves with treatment.
What Causes Sciatica In Pregnancy?
In general, 50 to 60% of women suffer from back pain during pregnancy. Symptoms of sciatica in pregnancy can be caused by muscle tension and unstable joints.
Pelvic bone pain, problems with the sacroiliac joints and a condition called piriformis syndrome , which is a problem with one of the buttock muscles, are common causes of sciatica during pregnancy.
This is due to an increase in pregnancy hormones such as relaxin, which can relax the ligaments (which are the structures that join bones to the joints) making them more malleable, especially in the pelvic area.
The baby’s weight can also contribute to the joint problem or piriformis syndrome, as it puts extra pressure on the pelvis and hip joints. Occasionally, the baby’s position can increase pressure on the sciatic nerve.
What to Do to Relieve Sciatica Pain?
Treatments for sciatica in pregnancy include complementary therapies, alternative treatments and physical therapy. In physiotherapy the specialist will show you exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, belly and back muscles.
He will also show you ways to improve posture and will be able to accompany the pregnant woman throughout her pregnancy to check her nerve function.
About half of women with sciatica during pregnancy feel better within 10 days to two weeks , and the majority (about 75%) recover within four to 12 weeks. But for some of them, the symptoms can last for much longer.
It is possible to take some kind of medication to relieve sciatica during pregnancy, but it is very important that the doctor is the one who has prescribed it . Because only he can tell you how much to take and for how long.
Other therapies that can be used include acupuncture , osteopathy and chiropractic, although there is no evidence on how useful they are for sciatica in pregnancy.
If the pregnant woman opts for a complementary therapy, it is indicated to check if the registered professional has experience in the treatment of pregnant women. Some women also find relief in swimming , as it is a low-impact exercise. This is because water helps to support the baby’s weight.
How to Relieve Sciatica in Pregnancy at Home?
Self-treatment of sciatica during pregnancy includes exercises to stretch the muscles of the leg, buttocks and hips, causing the pressure on the sciatic nerve to decrease.
At home, you can follow some of these tips:
- With your skin protected by a flannel or cloth, apply heat (a thermal bag) or ice pack to the affected area to help reduce pain. Switching between heat and cold helps some people.
- Stay as active as possible as this will help you recover. As you try to do normal activities, you are sure you want to feel some pain, but the anxiety before the task gets in the way even more.
- Observe the posture and try to keep your back slightly arched. When sitting, use a pillow or towel wrapped behind your back to support your spine.
- Try not to lift anything heavy. If you have to lift something, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Keep the object you are carrying close to your body.
- Use pillows under your belly, on your back and between your knees when sleeping.
Living With Pain
Sciatica in pregnancy can be painful and frustrating, but stretching can relieve it by decreasing muscle tension and increasing movement in the hips, back and legs.
Sciatica during pregnancy can worsen if the pregnant woman sits or stays in the same position for long periods . So, be sure to change your positions throughout the day.
Listen to your body and stop the activities that make sciatica worse. Always talk to your doctor before starting any type of physical activity or exercise.
If you experience any symptoms such as dizziness, headaches or bleeding, stop exercising immediately and seek medical help.
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.