Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy: Is It Sciatica
A sciatica is a sharp pain that follows the course of the sciatic nerve from the top of the gluteal muscle to the foot through the back of the thigh and the front of the leg. The sciatic nerve provides nerve transmission to the main muscles of the buttocks and legs. When compressed between two vertebrae due to a herniated disc, pinching or osteoarthritis the pain radiates into the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and sometimes to the foot through the calf. This is amplified when sitting or during coughing fits, while lying down often brings relief.
If the pains in the territory of the sciatic nerve called sciatica are frequent during pregnancy true sciatica is rare.
Real sciatica represents less than 1% of cases in pregnant women, reassures Aurélie Araujo, physiotherapist.
And to add: Often, the pain felt during pregnancy gives a feeling of sciatica but the discomfort is concentrated on the buttocks, it rarely goes lower. In general, it is rather the consequence of hypermobility of the sacroiliac joints. This mobility can be accompanied by a contracture of the piriformis muscle also called pyramidal muscle. Very involved in the stability of the pelvis, this deep muscle of the gluteal region is particularly stressed during pregnancy. When this is contracted, it can cause pain going down the path of the sciatic nerve.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica
The sciatica is characterized by pain in the pelvis, lower back, buttock, groin and even in the thigh. Their location means that they are often confused with sciatica by pregnant women. These often appear at the end of the second trimester or at the beginning of the third, specifies the physiotherapist. Earlier if it is a second pregnancy.
The patient will experience shooting pain in the back when turning over in bed or when going from sitting to standing. She may also experience residual discomfort when walking. In the majority of cases , the pain disappears after childbirth or within three months. On the other hand, persistent forms can be observed postpartum and take root over time. It is therefore very important to take care of the pain as soon as it appears and not to wait nine months, insists Aurélie Araujo.
To ensure that it is indeed sciatica and not sciatica, the practitioner will perform a physical examination. In general, we carry out several pain provocation tests, explains Aurélie Araujo. These will help guide the diagnosis towards sciatica. »
Sciatica During Pregnancy: How To Relieve Pain
Being pregnant can be loads of fun, with baby showers, cute maternity clothing, and the preparation for your new baby. But if you have cravings, mood swings, or sciatica, pregnancy can feel more like a chore.
There are many things that can be frustrating about being pregnant, but having sciatica pain might be one of the worst. Like a headache, it can completely derail your plans for the day and make trying to sleep at night miserable. But what exactly is sciatica pain during pregnancy? If youre not sure if you have it or are looking for sciatica pain relief, read on. We define what it is and ways to ease it below.
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How To Prevent Sciatica During Pregnancy
The best way to prevent sciatica pain in pregnancy is to stay fit and build strong core and lumbar muscles. . Some great ways to get in some moderate, pregnancy-safe exercise include:
- Yoga or pilates
Erin Nance, MD, is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon and hand surgeon. She specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery and conservative treatment, and has a focus on treating common injuries and conditions in women. She practices in New York City, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Visit her at NanceMD.com.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
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Sciatica Relief During Pregnancy
Sciatica during pregnancy can seem hopeless. Luckily, there are some effective and pain-relieving techniques that you can use today. Because many medications are not safe during pregnancy, try some of these medication-free alternatives below:
If these strategies still dont help, dont hesitate to contact a physician who may be able to give you a clearer picture of your condition and provide options for treatment. You and your baby deserve a pain-free, stress-free pregnancy, so dont suffer with sciatic pain any longer.
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Stretches For Sciatica Pain When Pregnant
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. 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.
You Can also do this stretch while sitting on a chair.
3. Pigeon Pose Exercise Stretch for Sciatica
1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor.
2. Slide your right knee forward so itâs between your hands.
Use Heat And Ice Therapy
When sciatica is acute, ice therapy may help numb the pain and relieve symptoms immediately. Ice therapy works by decreasing pain signals and reducing blood flow and helps relieve inflammation.
For chronic or recurring sciatica, try heat therapy. Application of heat helps dilate blood vessels, improve blood and nutrient flow, and reduce muscular soreness, aiding in the healing process.
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What Is Sciatica Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain starts in the spine. The spine is made up of 24 bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. These bones connect to protect the spinal cord. The seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of the skull and form the neck comprise the cervical spine.
Your spinal cord and nerves travel through the spinal canal carrying messages between your brain and muscles. The intervertebral discs between your vertebrae are flexible, flat and round discs and are about a half-inch thick. They act as shock absorbers when you walk or run and allow motion between the vertebrae.
Ways To Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy
FEELING PAIN RUNNING FROM YOUR BUTT TO LEG? COULD IT BE SCIATICA? HERES A SCOOP AT WHAT IS SCIATICA IN PREGNANCY AND HOW RELIEVE SCIATIC NERVE PAIN DURING PREGNANCY.
If you are in your second or third trimester of pregnancy, you know by now that there are more to pregnancy than the happy firsts like joy of being pregnant, first baby kick and not-so-happy firsts like morning sickness, Heartburn or Constipation.
But who would have a thought about sciatica in pregnancy? Not to worry, there are 10 ways to relieve sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.
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Posterior Pelvic Pain May Mimic Sciatica In Pregnancy
A common type of pregnancy-related painposterior pelvic pain may cause symptoms that are similar to sciatica. Posterior pelvic pain is common during pregnancy and may affect up to 76% of pregnant women. This pain may also be experienced up to 2 years after childbirth in 5% to 8.5% of new mothers.3
- In posterior pelvic pain, a stabbing, dull, shooting, and/or burning pain may be felt in the posterior pelvic area.
- The pain may extend into the buttock and radiate to the groin and back of the thigh.
- This pain, unlike sciatica, is often impossible to locate precisely and may change in type or area affected as the pregnancy progresses.3
The exact cause of posterior pelvic pain is not well understood and the pain may result due to hormonal, metabolic, or other biomechanical changes that occur during pregnancy.
But What About When Everything Isnt Working Correctly
This crucial nerve can run into problems, though. In fact, its more common than you think: Millions of cases of sciatica are reported each year in the United States.
Unfortunately, the passageway through which this nerve travels in the hips is quite small. When there is narrowing or damage to this passageway, the sciatic nerve can become pinched. A pinched sciatic nerve often results in excruciating pain. Symptoms are usually localized in the lower back or hips or radiate from the lower back into the legs and feet. Numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and difficulty walking can all result.
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Stretches And Exercises To Treat Sciatic Nerve Pain
Pregnancy can already be an uncomfortable process for a soon-to-be mother, even without sciatic nerve pain. Thankfully, the incorporation of specific stretches can help reduce and relieve sciatica during pregnancy:
- Child pose. When practiced for just a few minutes several times a day, this stretch can relieve the back from its over-arched posture caused by the baby.
- Knees rocking. This gentle rocking stretch helps get rid of inflammation caused by bone-to-bone contact and pushes out fluid that builds up around the joints and causes leg pain.
- Table stretch. The table stretch is typically best when sciatic pain has started to ease up a little. It also helps to relieve pain in the lumbar spinal segments.
- The BackBlock routine. The BackBlock is a stretching tool that aids in spinal decompression exercises. Refer to the link above to ensure proper form when working with the block.
While stretching is a great way to treat sciatica, it isnt your only option. Some other ways to treat sciatic nerve pain include:
- Use a warm compress on the area where you are experiencing pain.
- Stay off your feet and rest in comfortable positions as much as possible.
- Place a pillow between your legs to better align the pelvis and take some pressure off of the sciatic nerve.
- Strengthen your core and reduce inflammation with pelvic tilts and kegel exercises.
- Start swimming, an exercise that can relieve pressure on the spine.
See A Physical Therapist
In addition to remedies you might try yourself and getting a chiropractic adjustment, Megan Davidson, a Brooklyn-based doula and author of Your Birth Plan suggests seeing a physical therapist to help address your pregnancy sciatica pain. Her advice includes “seeing a pelvic flood physical therapist to help assess whatâs going on and offer suggestions for how to improve it.”
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Why Do You Have Sciatica During Pregnancy
50 to 80% of women get lower back pain during the duration of their pregnancy. So if youre having sciatica like symptoms, youre not alone!
During pregnancy, there is an increase in the hormone called relaxin. This hormone is specifically responsible for relaxing ligaments. Without relaxin, your pelvic area during pregnancy would not stretch and loosen to accommodate your growing baby.
Relaxin is especially helpful for when it comes time to give birth. Without it, birth would be much more painful. Thank you relaxin!
But, with loosened ligaments comes pain with one or multiple muscles in your lower back and buttocks.
Since the sciatic nerve is located under the uterus and extends down to your legs, your growing uterus and baby can put pressure on it. Sciatica during pregnancy is literally a pain in the butt!
Throughout 9 months of pregnancy, sciatica pain will worsen in severity as your due date approaches. Once you give birth, the pressure your baby puts on your sciatic nerve will be released and hopefully the pain will significantly improve.
When To Call Your Doctor
Mild sciatica will go away with time and resolves with childbirth. However, you should call your doctor when self-care and home remedy measures fail to help symptoms or if the pain gets worse, becomes severe, or lasts more than a week.
Get immediate medical help for sudden severe pain in your low back or leg, accompanied by muscle weakness of the leg, or if you have problems controlling your bowels or bladder. These might be signs of a condition called cauda equina syndrome, which is a medical emergency and requires surgical intervention.
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What You Need To Know About Sciatica During Pregnancy
Sciatica will most likely occur during the third trimester, when both you and your baby are bulking up . Most women typically experience pain just on one side, though you may feel it in both legs.
Sciatica can be constant or intermittent, depending on the amount of pressure placed on the nerve. Pain may increase as you put on more weight and retain more fluid.
And it can stick around for a few months or so after youve given birth, until youve shed the excess weight and fluid pressing on the nerve.
Sciatica Home Remedies And Self
Regardless of the cause, about 90% of people with sciatica will get better without surgerymost of them in just a few weeks. You can start treating your sciatica at home. In fact, home treatment may be all you need, especially if you know that your sciatica is caused by an injury or pregnancy.
Even if you don’t know what’s causing your sciatica, you can take steps to relieve your pain at home. Call your doctor if the pain isn’t manageable or under certain other circumstances.
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If It’s Not Sciatica It Could Be Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Your doctor will want to rule out sacroiliac joint pain, which is also common in pregnancy. This discomfort is characterized by pain in the SI joint region, the pelvic area where the sacrum connects to the right and left iliac bones. The iliac bones are the large, wing-like bones that form the upper portion of the pelvis.
Pregnant women often experience pain in the SI joint because of the natural loosening of the pelvic ligaments and tendons to prepare the body for childbirth.
This relaxing of the ligaments and tendons creates more pelvic movement and less stability, which is ideal for delivery but can also result in a deep, radiating ache in the pelvic region.
SI joint pain tends to occur in the buttock, hip, groin, and back of the thigh but does not extend below the knee. In contrast, sciatica discomfort often radiates all the way down to the toes.
Exercises that promote core and lumbar stability can help to reduce SI joint pain during pregnancy, which usually resolves after the postpartum period.
Your doctor may do a physical exam that will help discern whether the discomfort you feel is due to sciatica, SI joint pain, or another issue. Additionally, they can provide suggestions for finding relief.
The Initial Causes Sciatica Pain Relief In Late Pregnancy
A tight hip can also lead to pain in the lower back. It can make you sit awkwardly and can affect your posture. To test if your hip flexors are tight, place an ankle on your knee and fold your torso forward. Repeat this exercise for 60 seconds and then switch sides. Tight hips can cause problems in your low back, knees, and sacroiliac joints. To test if you have tight or tighter hip flexors, try these simple exercises.
The best way to stretch tight hips is to do a gluteus-hamstring stretch. A gluteus-hamstring stretch is a great choice. Your pelvic floor is crucial in your pelvic floor. You need to have a strong pelvic space, and strengthening your glutes and hamstrings will help you improve your posture. If your glutes and hamstrings are weak, you should do a lower body strengthening routine to strengthen them.
A tight hip can cause lower back pain while standing and affect your ability to walk. A tight hip can also affect your knees and sacroiliac joints. It is important to know your bodys signals and make an effort to open your hips. You can also perform a hip flexors test on your own by lying down and raising your leg up. If your knees are tight, your hips may be the culprit.
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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.
Benefits Of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
Pregnancy and chiropractic care go hand in hand! Often viewed as a first line of defense for the health of both mother and child, there is sufficient case study results that support the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments.
Several benefits of adjustments while pregnant include:
- Relieved pressure on the sciatic nerve
- Helps restore sleep cycles
- Reduces swelling and pain in joints
- Aids in proper fetal positioning within the womb
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