Sciatica During Pregnancy – Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
Sciatica during pregnancy is just another annoying body change we have to deal with along with many others. But what is sciatica and what can you do to make your life more comfortable?
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is caused by irritation of your sciatic nerve which starts in the lumbar or lower spine and ends in the thigh. With sciatica you may have pain in your buttocks and hip that travels to your thigh.
Sciatica is one of those less commonly spoken about pregnancy symptoms. But when you get it, you know it, and it can really cause you pain and inconvenience. Some women have such severe sciatica when walking and also while sleeping.
Sciatica is also known as lumbosacral radicular syndrome.
What Does Sciatica Feel Like?
It can be a deep, dull pain or a shooting, sharp pain. Sciatic pain can range from mild to severe. It often goes away with treatment.
How will I know if I have sciatica during pregnancy?
You will have a shooting, burning pain that comes and goes, and often affects just one side. You may feel pain in your lower back, at the back of your thigh and down the back of your leg to your foot.
Causes of sciatica during pregnancy
Sciatic pain is generally caused by lumbar spine problems such as a bulging or herniated disc.
Sciatic-like symptoms are common with low back pain in pregnancy.
Sciatic symptoms can also be caused by muscle tension and unstable joints. Pelvic bone pain, sacroiliac (SI) joint problems, is a common cause of sciatic pain during pregnancy.
Your baby’s weight can also add to SI joint trouble or piriformis syndrome because it puts extra pressure on your pelvis and hip joints. Also, the position of your baby can add pressure to your sciatic nerve.
“From guided weekly exercise workouts, prenatal nutrition tips, health tips to physically preparing your body for childbirth – improving your health is priority number one. Get Pregnancy FIT – Start with a FREE Trial >”
What Triggers Sciatica?
So you have ruled out medical causes for your sciatica but still have lingering pain? Maybe you are experiencing pain without any of the common risk factors. Here are some possible triggers for sciatica.
1. Being Excessively Overweight or Obese
You will gain weight throughout your pregnancy and this is normal. What is not ideal is if you are extremely overweight being overweight is another way to put pressure on your sciatic nerve. The more overweight you are, the higher your risk for sciatica.
2. High Heels and Un-cushioned Shoe
Wearing high heels and un-cushioned shoes can trigger sciatica. The ground forces generated while you walk can transfer up your lower extremity to the structures of your back and hip.
3. What You Carry in Your Back Pocket
Do you put items in your back pocket? If you sit for prolonged periods of time, with something in your back pocket then it can irritate your piriformis muscle. When this happens, the sciatic nerve may also become pressured.
Symptoms of sciatic pain during pregnancy
Symptoms of sciatic pain include:
1. Sharp, shooting, or burning pain.
2. Occasional (or constant) pain in one side of your buttocks or leg.
3. Pain from the buttocks down the back of your thigh and to the foot.
4. Numbness, pins and needles, or weakness in the affected leg or foot.
5. Difficulty walking, standing, or sitting.
Please always call your doctor if you are concerned about pain.
How will sciatica affect my labour?
Yes, if you are experiencing sciatica, then the positions you use during labour may be limited. Using a birth pool may be helpful, as it will make moving easier.
My dedicated Birth Prep program will help you to physically and mentally prepare for labour. I have a special video on birthing positions that you will want to watch.
Treatment for sciatica during pregnancy
Treatments for sciatic pain during pregnancy include everything from massage, chiropractic care to physical therapy. Self-treatment of sciatic pain during pregnancy includes exercises to help stretch the muscles of the leg, buttocks, and hip to decrease the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
You may find a non-weight-bearing exercise such swimming to be helpful. This is because the water helps to support the weight of your baby.
Self-help tips I can follow to ease sciatica?
1. Apply a heat or an ice pack to the painful area for 10 minutes.
2. Keep mobile. Try not to stay still for long periods.
3. Use pillows and cushions to support your bump in bed.
4. Avoid high heels and wear flat, soft shoes. They may help prevent jarring of your spine when you walk.
5. Do not lift anything heavy.
6. Listen to your body.
7. Stop doing whatever is hurting you.
Does Walking Help Sciatica?
Yes! Walking is an effective form of exercise for relieving sciatic pain. Walking releases pain-fighting endorphins and reduces inflammation. But you also need to be aware that poor walking posture may aggravate your sciatica symptoms.
Sleeping with Sciatica when Pregnant
Sciatica pain can be difficult to manage and it can make sleeping quite difficult. If you weren’t pregnant, sleeping on your back would be one technique. But lying on your back when pregnant is not recommended so avoid this. What you can do is to slide a pillow between your bed and knees for support.
Other Ways to Ease Sciatica during Pregnancy
1. Prenatal massage
Having a massage with a qualified and experienced prenatal massage therapist can help relive some pain. Do your due diligence on finding a qualified therapists who has expert knowledge on sciatica and lower back pain.
2. Physical therapy
Physical therapy can decrease sciatica pain by reducing inflammation, improving blood flow, and realigning joints and muscles.
3. Prenatal yoga
We love yoga and for good reason. The benefits of yoga for mind and body are well-documented and widely known, so it should come as no surprise that a prenatal yoga practice can relieve sciatic nerve pain.
Stretches for Sciatica Pain
Sciatic pain during pregnancy can be painful. Stretching can help relieve your sciatic pain by decreasing muscle tension and increasing movement in the hips, lower back, and legs.
You may notice that your sciatic pain may become worse if you sit or stand for long periods of time. So I want you to change your positions throughout the day.
Try these five stretches to help ease sciatic pain and discomfort during your pregnancy.
1. Table or Chair stretch
This stretch will help the muscles of the back, buttocks, and the back of the legs.
1. Stand facing a table with feet slightly wider than your hips.
2. Lean forward with your hands on the table. Keep your arms straight and your back flat.
3. Pull your hips away from the table until you feel a stretch in the lower back.
4. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
2. Seated piriformis stretch
The piriformis muscle is deep in the buttocks and when is it tight, it can irritate the sciatic nerve. This stretch can help decrease sciatic pain.
1. Sit on a chair with feet flat on the ground.
2. If your right side is affected, put your right ankle on your right knee.
3. Keep your back straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch through your buttocks.
4. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat again.
3. Pigeon Pose Stretch
1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor.
2. Slide your right knee forward so it’s between your hands.
3. Slide your left leg back, keeping your foot on the floor.
4. Place the rolled towel under your right hip.
5. Lean forward over your right leg. Slowly lower yourself toward the ground, putting a pillow under your head and arms for support.
6. Hold for 1 minute.
4. Hip flexor stretch
1. Kneel on the floor on your hands and knees.
2. Step one foot in front of you. Your hip and knee are at a 90-degree angle.
3. Shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your back hip and leg.
4. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.
5. Glute and hamstring foam rolling.
1. Put your foam roller on the ground.
2. Sit on the foam roller. You can support yourself with your hands behind you.
3. Cross one foot over the other knee into a ‘figure 4’ position.
4. Slowly move your body back and forth over the foam roller until you find a tender spot.
5. Continue this movement over the sore area for 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Slowly move over the foam roller until you find another tender area. As in step 5, continue over the area for 30 to 60 seconds.
7. Repeat on other side.
It is important that you listen to your body and stop activities that cause sciatic pain to get worse. As always talk with your doctor before you start exercising.
There are some stretches you can do to relieve the pain. And I want you to do the workouts I have created for you for each week of your pregnancy. These will help you relieve your back pain.
Start here and Gain Trust in Your Body!
PregActive for Pregnancy is my medically endorsed online prenatal exercise program. I will help will help you strengthen your pelvic floor, core, and prepare for birth. I want you to enjoy control and confidence in how your body looks, works, and feels throughout your pregnancy.
“From guided weekly exercise workouts that only include safe pregnancy stretches, to my online yoga classes, pelvic floor exercises to my innovative PregActive FIT workouts – my online program will is for you! Start with a FREE Trial >”