What You Should Know about Sciatica During Pregnancy
No doubt about it – pregnancy changes your body and brings with it fresh challenges. As the baby growing inside you expands, it’s not uncommon to feel an ache in your back. As your abdomen expands, it throws off your center of gravity and your posture shifts. This places greater strain on your lower back.
Although the lower back discomfort may be mild, some women experience a more severe type of pain called sciatica. Running down your lower back and extending into your legs is a nerve called the sciatic nerve. Back pain due to sciatica starts when something presses on this nerve or when the canal it runs through narrows and puts pressure on the nerve.
Men and women who aren’t pregnant can suffer from this condition too. This can happen if they have a bulging disc that presses on the nerve or a narrowing of the canal the nerve runs through. Degenerative changes in the spine due to arthritis is another cause. Unfortunately, you can also experience it when you’re pregnant.
What Causes Sciatic During Pregnancy and What Are the Symptoms?
Why sciatica during pregnancy? The reason you experience it often has more to do with the expansion of your tummy and the shifting of your center of gravity. Sometimes, as the baby grows or moves it places pressure on the nerve. As you might expect, sciatic shows up most commonly in the third trimester when your baby is larger. It often comes on suddenly.
Nevertheless, sciatica can be quite painful. When you have sciatic pain, you’ll likely experience other symptoms like numbness and tingling in a leg, usually only one leg. In some cases, the leg that’s numb is also weak. The pain in your back may also get worse when you cough or sneeze. Sciatica differs from the more common backache you get during pregnancy because the symptoms also affect your leg.
What Can You Do about Sciatica While You’re Pregnant?
The good news is this. Sciatica usually goes away after you deliver, as long as you don’t have another problem like a bulging disc or narrowing of the spine. Until then, the best way to get relief is to treat your back with lots of TLC and moist heat. Avoid lifting more than 5 pounds, bending, stooping, or pushing a heavy cart around at the grocery store until the symptoms have resolved. Contrary to what you might think, bed rest may actually make sciatic pain worse since your muscles tighten up when you don’t move around. Keep moving but avoid doing any type of high-impact activity like running or jumping. Swimming is a good alternative for staying active when you have back pain.
Make you’re sleeping on a firm mattress that supports your back. You may feel comfortable with a pregnancy pillow between your knees. If your symptoms are severe, a physical therapist can help. They can also show you stretches you can do at home to relieve the discomfort. Other therapies that may be beneficial are massage therapy and yoga. If the pain is severe, anti-inflammatories may be an option but talk to your doctor first.
Sciatica is no fun but the symptoms usually pass. In the meantime, treat yourself with a little extra kindness – and be patient.
Pregnancy.org. “Sciatic Nerve Pain”
Medscape Multispecialty. “Managing Back Pain During Pregnancy”