Pregnancy is often associated with many problems like nausea, vomiting, swelling etc but one of the most difficult problems to manage during pregnancy is sciatic pain. Many pregnant women may suffer from a pregnancy related condition called sciatica and will find it difficult to sit as there would be an excruciating pain in the lower back while sitting.
Sciatica is caused due to the inflammation or pressure exerted on the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve is the nerve that runs from the lower back of the body and travels down through the back of the legs and supply the feet. This vein helps a person to feel the sensation in the legs and make them move the muscles of the legs.
Sciatica is not necessarily due to the pressure exerted by the growing baby in the uterus on the sciatic nerve rather it is the result of the damage that happens to a disc in the spine. If the disc is slipped out of the spine then it may either cause inflammation to the tissues walling the sciatic nerve or they compress the nerve resulting in exerting pressure directly on the nerve.
During pregnancy the change in posture and weakness of the abdominal muscles add strain to the back and pregnant women become more prone to back injuries like slip disc leading to sciatica. The release of hormones during pregnancy makes the joints soft and more prone to injuries especially back injuries.
Usually sciatica develops during the second or third trimester of pregnancy and most of the pregnant women having sciatica develop pain or tingling in their legs and back. Sciatica is often accompanied by paralyzing numbness or shooting pain especially on the lower back, buttocks or on the back of the thighs and may even experience numbness in the groin and genital region and it may be difficult to urinate or to have a bowel movement. The pain associated with sciatica aggravates while walking, bending, lifting etc. In certain cases sciatica pain and the discomforts gets cured on its own but in certain others it require treatment.
- Massaging the affected areas helps to relieve the discomforts and pressure. This is because massaging eases the tension of the nerve and also the gluteus or psoas muscles which when becomes tight causes sciatica. But during pregnancy massaging should be done by an expert therapist else it may trigger uterine contractions and creates more problems than good. Massage that extends from ten minutes to one hour on weight bearing joints is safe and relaxing for pregnant women.
- Stretching, toning and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, back muscles and abdominal muscles help to relieve the discomforts of sciatica. Stretching the ligaments and strengthening the abdominal muscles and inner thigh muscles provides a proper body alignment which prevents the sciatica or lower back pain. Different types of stretches that can be practiced during pregnancy include squatting stretch, tailor stretching, tailor sitting, pelvic tilt and dromedary droop. Along with stretches practice exercises but consults your doctor before starting any exercises and follow mild to moderate level exercises. Some of the safest exercises include walking, swimming and low impact aerobic exercises. While doing exercise listen to the body and stop exercising whenever there is a pain.
- Chiropractic is a natural and safe treatment method intended to cure sciatica. It helps to relieve sciatica by properly aligning the body but it should be followed only with a registered practitioner who is experienced in treating pregnant women.
- Pregnancy support belt and alternate cold and hot compressions, avoid sitting or standing for a long period and avoid lifting of heavy objects may also help to reduce the stress on the back
- Most of the people having sciatica recover in six weeks and almost all the people recover in 12 weeks’ time. Before undergoing any of the self-cares and exercises discusses it with the gynecologist and ensures that it is safe for the baby.
Photo Credit: Yoursciaticatreatment.com