Sciatica During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Sciatica During Pregnancy

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Do you often feel a bolt of pain running down your lower back and into your legs? This could be sciatica. But, how can you find relief from sciatica pain during pregnancy?

You can always expect aches and pains during pregnancy. Especially as the pregnancy progresses, you are met with one of the most common pregnancy discomforts which are, lower back pain. Who would like that sharp, shooting pain which radiates into your butt and legs? What’s causing it? It could be because of nerve compression. Keep on reading to learn more about sciatica during pregnancy and how to find that sweet safe relief!

What Is Sciatica?

This is a painful nerve condition that involves the compression of the sciatic nerve, which is a network of nerves that run from your lower back down into your butt and down your leg. At any point along that route, the nerve can be compressed, starting inside the spine, this is caused by a herniated disc or it goes along the path of the nerve as it runs through the pelvis and under your leg. When that happens, you can sometimes feel a sharp cramp or an electric jolt down your leg.

What Causes of Sciatica During Pregnancy?

Usually, for most people, sciatica is caused by herniated discs. However, sciatica caused by a herniated disc is pretty rare during pregnancy because it affects about 1 percent of expecting women. Nonetheless, this nerve can also be compressed by other things that are very common during pregnancy. Some things which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve are loose ligaments, general body swelling, and the position of a growing baby in the pelvis. Around, 50 to 80 percent of expecting women suffer from lower back sciatica pain during pregnancy.

What Are Some Symptoms of Sciatica During Pregnancy?

The most common sciatica symptoms are:

The diagnosis of sciatica during pregnancy is typically done by your health care provider or an orthopedic surgeon by conducting a detailed medical history and physical examination.

How to Find Relief From Sciatica During Pregnancy?

Most often traditional measures are used to treat sciatica pain during pregnancy. Here’s a list of at-home noninvasive treatments that can offer sciatica pain relief during pregnancy:

1. Physical therapy

During pregnancy, the alignment of your pelvis changes due to the loosening of ligaments and changes in your center of gravity. So, it is advisable to go to a physical therapist who will guide you on a therapeutic program that focuses on building strength, flexibility, and optimizing good posture.

2. Warm heating pad

Using heat can help with calming an irritated nerve.

3. Massage

Consider doing some massages from a certified prenatal massage therapist. These massages mainly consist of light-stroke massage to help relax muscle tension.

4. Low-impact exercise

It is advisable to do stretching and exercises like yoga, pilates, and swimming to help with maintaining flexibility and strengthening muscles.

5. Over-the-counter medication

Occasionally, you can use Tylenol  to help with the pain.

6. Alternative sciatica treatment during pregnancy

Some examples of other alternative treatments that may help provide sciatica pain relief during pregnancy are chiropractic work, acupuncture, and reiki.

Some Exercise To Relieve The Sciatica During Pregnancy

Some treatments for sciatic pain during pregnancy, like mentioned, include chiropractic care, massage, and physical therapy. As for self-treatment, you can do exercises to help stretch the muscles of the legs, buttocks, and hip to decrease the pressure on the sciatic nerve. While others find non-weight-bearing exercises, like swimming, to be helpful because the water helps to support the weight of your baby. You can try these five stretches to help ease the sciatic pain and discomfort during your pregnancy:

1. Seated piriformis stretch

Your piriformis muscle is present deep in the buttocks and when it’s tight, it can irritate the sciatic nerve. Doing this stretch will help relieve the tightness present in the muscle and help decrease sciatic pain. You don’t need any equipment. This particular stretch targets the piriformis muscle. To do this exercise, you need to:

  • First, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Then, if your left side is affected, put your left ankle on your right knee.
  • While keeping a straight back, lean forward until you feel a stretch through your buttocks.
  • Finally, hold for 30 seconds and repeat throughout the day.

2. Table stretch

This stretch feels great during pregnancy because it helps stretch the muscles of the back, buttocks, and back of the legs. You just need a table as equipment. This particular stretch targets the low back, spinal stabilizers, hamstring muscle. To do this exercise, you need to:

  • First, stand facing a table with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
  • Then, lean forward with your hands on the table. Also, keep your arms straight and your back flat.
  • Then pull your hips away from the table until you feel a nice stretch in your lower back and back of the legs.
  • If you want to increase the stretch in the lower back and hips, you can move your hips from side to side.
  • Finally, hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat twice a day.

3. Pigeon Pose

It is a popular yoga pose that helps relieve sciatica-like pain during pregnancy. After a few small changes, it can be practiced comfortably while pregnant. You just need a rolled-up towel or yoga block as equipment. This particular stretch targets the hip rotators and flexors muscle. To do this exercise, you need to:

  • First, get your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Then, slide your right knee forward so it’s between your hands.
  • Slide your left leg back while keeping your foot on the floor.
  • Then place the rolled towel or a yoga block under your right hip. This makes the stretch easier and allows room for your belly.
  • Now, lean forward over your right leg and slowly lower yourself toward the ground, and put a pillow under your head and arms for support.
  • Finally, hold for 1 minute and repeat on another side. Also, repeat this a few times throughout the day.

4. Hip flexor stretch

Hip flexors are the muscles that are present along the front of the hip and help in moving the leg forward during movements like walking. During pregnancy, a lot of women have tight hip flexors. This can cause pain as it affects the pelvic alignment and posture. You don’t need any equipment. This particular stretch targets the hip flexor muscle. To do this exercise, you need to:

  • First, kneel on the floor on your hands and knees.
  • Then, step one foot in front of you so that your hip and knee are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Then, shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your back hip and leg.
  • Finally, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on another side.

5. Glute and hamstring foam rolling

You can use an inexpensive piece of equipment like a foam roller to help massage your muscles. Foam rolling is a great way to soothe and relax tight muscles that could be causing you increased amounts of pain. You just need a foam roller as equipment. This particular stretch targets the hamstrings, calf muscles, glutes, piriformis muscles. To do this exercise, you need to:

  • First, place the foam roller on the ground.
  • Then, sit on the foam roller while supporting yourself with your hands behind you.
  • Then, cross one foot over the other knee into a “figure 4” position.
  • While slowly moving your body back and forth over the foam roller until you find a tender spot.
  • Continue doing this movement over this sore area for about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Then, slowly move over the foam roller until you find another tender area. Just like the previous step, continue over the area for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat it on another side.

How to Prevent Sciatica During Pregnancy?

If you want to prevent sciatica pain during pregnancy, you need to stay fit and build a strong core and lumbar muscles. You could do some moderate, pregnancy-safe exercises like swimming, low-intensity aerobics, walking, and yoga or pilates.

In Conclusion

Sciatic pain during pregnancy can be painful and frustrating. Doing some stretching can effectively improve sciatic pain. It can get worse if you sit or stand for a long period. So, make sure to switch your positions throughout the day.

Also, always consult your doctor before you start exercising. Stop exercising and get medical help, if you experience any symptoms like dizziness, headaches, or bleeding.

Sciatica During Pregnancy FAQs

1) Does pregnancy sciatica go away?

Absolutely, yes! Sciatica almost always goes away after pregnancy, so do not stress too much about it.

2) Do pregnancy pillows help with sciatica?

If you suffer from sciatica nerve pain while you're pregnant, try getting a knee pillow because it can help ease tension.

3) How long can sciatica last?

This sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back to your feet is irritating and painful. However, it usually gets better in 4 to 6 weeks but can last longer too.

4) How to prevent sciatica during pregnancy?

To help prevent the pain of sciatica during pregnancy, you need to try and stay fit by building strong core and lumbar muscles. You could do some moderate, pregnancy-safe exercises like swimming, low-intensity aerobics, walking, and yoga or pilates.

5) How to do a table-stretch to prevent sciatica during pregnancy?

Here’s how you can do a table-stretch to prevent sciatica during pregnancy:
  • First, stand facing a table with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
  • Then, lean forward with your hands on the table. Also, keep your arms straight and your back flat.
  • Then pull your hips away from the table until you feel a nice stretch in your lower back and back of the legs.
  • If you want to increase the stretch in the lower back and hips, you can move your hips from side to side.
  • Finally, hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat twice a day.
  • 6) What are the symptoms of sciatica during pregnancy?

  • Weakness in your feet
  • Tenderness across your lumbar spine
  • Feeling of pins and needles in your legs, back, or butt(also known as paresthesias)
  • Cramp-like, sharp, or electric pain in your legs, back, or butt.
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