Pregnancy is a never-ending group of changes that happen in a woman's body internally and externally. Pain in different parts of the body is also a part of these changes. The sciatic pain is the most prominent pain during pregnancy.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to any pain that affects the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is very common during pregnancy. All the women who complained about sciatica pain during pregnancy mostly share same physical symptoms.
Where is the sciatica sciatic nerve located?
The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body. It is about the width of the thumb and it originates at the lower end of the spinal cord. From there, it splits into two parts to run down through the pelvic area, then through each buttock and thigh, and finally along each leg to each foot.
Sciatica during pregnancy
The pain associated with sciatica during pregnancy is not permanent unless a sciatica injury was present before the mother became pregnant. The sciatic nerve becomes slightly inflamed and causes pain in the buttocks or legs during pregnancy. This inflammation often occurs as a result of the pressure being placed on the nerve by the growing belly.
Swelling of the body from water retention can further add to the discomfort of the sciatic nerve. A combination of hormonal changes on muscles and ligaments, along with the extra pressure on the sciatic nerve by the pregnant uterus, can incite sciatica.
The symptoms of sciatic nerve pain in pregnancy experienced by pregnant mothers may include:
- Pinpricks appearing in the leg, foot and lower back
- Pain that shoots through the leg affecting the lower back and buttocks at times.
- Stabbing lower back pain extending to the foot and pelvis.
- Leg or feet numbness.
Is it normal to have sciatica in early pregnancy?
Hip and/or leg pain may be caused by the sciatic nerve, and you may experience this pain anytime in your pregnancy, both as a result of sciatica and because your hips are expanding to get room for your increased size uterus.
Some women develop it in the first trimester; others get it as late as in third trimester. However, sciatica is most common in the second and third trimesters when your growing baby puts maximum pressure on the sciatic nerve.
How long does sciatica last in pregnancy?
Nerve pain, specifically sciatic nerve pain, can be one of the worst side effects of pregnancy. Sciatica pain occurs when a specific pressure is applied to a specific spot. Due to this reason, the pain could simply stop all on its own (in absence of pressure as the baby grows and moves off the nerve) or it may subside after the delivery (reduced uterus place less pressure on the nerve and also the hormone levels return to normal).
Sciatica can make mothers truly miserable, especially when they happen to be on a long road trip or working in an office where it's difficult to get up and move around. If the sciatica pain during pregnancy does not relieve itself, the mother needs to find relief in order to function during the day and sleep at night.
Sciatic pain relief during pregnancy
Relieving the pressure that has caused the pain can help in treating and preventing sciatica. The pressure can be relieved in the following ways:
- Hiring a massage therapist is the optimal choice. The massage therapist has a clear understanding and knowledge about the exact location of the sciatic nerve in the body. They help to relieve the pressure by applying some additional pressure of a therapeutic nature on the same point of pain.
- Other things which can help are chiropractic doctors (diagnose, treat and prevent mechanical or soft tissue disorders within the body), physical therapists, exercise (Stretching exercises that focus on the lower back, buttock, and hamstring muscles can reduce discomfort), swimming and walking.
- Pain can also be controlled by using heating pads and making some changes (most often prescribed by the obstetrician before specialist care is sought) in the way the pregnant mom sits or walks. Ice and heat pads can be made easily available, and are inexpensive too. They are quite effective in treating sciatica on many cases. A cold pack or ice application can help reduce inflammation and numb sore tissues. This can help reduce some of the pain in the sciatic nerve during pregnancy.
- Try Yoga and Stretching: Stretching exercises can be quite effective. This helps stretch the tiny piriformis muscle, which sometimes becomes inflamed and causing pressed sciatic nerve, which causes pain.
- Avoid sitting or lying for long periods
- Chiropractor spinal adjustments
Read more about sciatica pain relief.