The largest nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve is responsible for providing sensation to the back of the thigh, lower part of the leg and the sole of the foot. Sciatic pain or Sciatica occurs in about 50 to 80 percent of women during pregnancy. It is caused by irritation of your sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower spine area and leads towards the thighs. The pain can be deep, dull or even a shooting, sharp pain. It is more common in the second and third trimester, when the growing baby puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. There are treatments available for sciatica during pregnancy and your doctor should be able to help you with it.
Causes of Sciatica
Contrary to popular belief, sciatica isn’t caused only due to pregnancy. The pain is usually due to lumbar spine problems, such as a bulging or herniated disc. Even change in bone structure caused by stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease or any other condition affecting the spine can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and lead to sciatic pain.
Symptoms of sciatica can also be caused by tension of muscles and due to unstable joints. During pregnancy, pain in the pelvic bone, and a condition called piriformis syndrome (a problem with one of the muscles in the buttocks) are more common reasons for sciatic pain. The increased levels of pregnancy hormones such as relaxin causes the ligaments to loosen and stretch, especially in the pelvic area, and lead to sciatica.
The weight of a growing baby also adds to joint problems or piriformis syndrome, as it puts more pressure on the pelvis and hip joints. Sometimes, the position of the baby can also affect sciatic nerve and add pressure.
Massages, chiropractic care and physical therapy are the recommended options of treatment for sciatic pain during pregnancy. Our doctors at KIMS Cuddles can tell you more about this. Pregnant women can also try some self-help treatments at home which includes exercises to stretch the muscles of the leg, buttocks, and hip in order to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. They may also try swimming after consultation with their doctor.
Some easy stretching exercises include:
- Seated piriformis stretch: This easy to perform stretch involves sitting on a chair, with feet flat on the ground. If you experience pain on the left side, lift your left ankle to put it on your right knee. Keep a straight back, lean forward until you feel a stretch through your buttocks and hold this pose for 30 seconds. Repeat this several times a day.
- Table stretch: This stretch involves standing facing a table, with feet slightly wider than the hips. Keeping your arms straight, back flat and hands on the table, lean forward. Then pull your hips away from the table, until you feel a stretch in the lower back and the back of your legs. If you can, move your hips sideways to increase the stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat twice a day.
Sciatic pain can be extremely bothersome during pregnancy. You can find some relief by doing stretching exercise which can decrease muscle tension and increase hip movement. Sitting or standing for longer durations will only increase sciatic pain. Make sure you keep some kind of movement throughout the day to reduce the pain. Always seek medical help if you experience symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or bleeding. Hope this blog about sciatica during pregnancy was helpful to you. Talk to our experts at KIMS Cuddles to know more about treatment options for sciatica during pregnancy.
**Information shared here is for general purpose. Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.