Sciatica during Pregnancy

By Sally Ann Quirke | Filed under: Pregnancy and Back Pain, Sciatica

Pregnancy and Sciatica
Sciatica and Pregnant

Sciatica during pregnancy is a very common complaint among my clients - but why are pregnant women prone to sciatica?

Are you pregnant and suffering with a pain down the back or side of your leg? This may be pregnancy sciatica. Sciatica is a pain which travels along the course of a nerve coming from your lower back and running down the back of your leg as far as your ankle. This nerve is called your sciatic nerve.

The causes of sciatica are many. Any structure which travels along the route of your sciatic nerve, if not moving or aligned correctly, can potentially impinge on that nerve - thereby causing sciatica.

So, why are pregnant women prone to sciatica?

The main cause of sciatica in pregnancy is from the natural changes in the posture and alignment of your lower back that occurs during pregnancy. As your Baby - and your associated bump - gets bigger the additional weight increases the depth of the curve in your lower back, causing an increase in the pressure on your joints and your sciatic nerve. The hormones related to pregnancy also cause a laxity in the ligaments around the base of your spine - further increasing the pressure in this area.

These combined factors can result in the joints of your lower back (or the muscles and ligaments attaching them together)to press on your sciatic nerve. This typically causes a certain type of hip and leg pain, which is commonly called sciatica (see sciatica symptoms for more). Treatment for sciatica during pregnancy is usually very successful. Firstly, you must receive a correct diagnosis that sources the structure or movement that is impinging your sciatic nerve. A Physiotherapist is the best person for this job.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your physiotherapist will make minor adjustments to your spine and tissues where required. They will follow this with advice and positioning work that will reduce the risk of re-occurrence as your baby continues to grow. Appropriate exercise for sciatica may also be required for you to do on a daily basis. It is essential that you carry out exercise only after a diagnosis as the wrong exercise may exacerbate your sciatica.

Occasionally, your baby’s position in the womb may also cause your sciatic nerve to be impinged. In these cases patience may be required! Ask your baby politely to move! If you continue to have sciatica-type symptoms after your baby is born please seek immediate professional help, as it suggests a mal-alignment in your back. If you leave this mal-alignment in place for too long, it may lead to long-term back problems.

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