Pregnancy is that phase in a woman’s life which is characterised by a lot of difficulties and pain for some while smoother for others. Headaches, nausea, morning sickness, aversions, cravings, weepiness, irritability being few of them but most common of them all and the most disturbing is the back pain which is an acute or prickly pain that initiates from the hips and moves down to the back portion of the legs. During pregnancy, the sciatic nerve gets affected due to changes in the body size and shape, and as the uterus puts additional pressure on it, making the situation worsen.
Let us know to get a better insight about the sciatica pain, its causes, the conditions under which it worsens, how to get relief from the pain, how to put a stop on it if it happens at night.
What Is Sciatica In Pregnancy?
Sciatica is even referred to as the lumbosacral radicular syndrome. This happens as the result of the irritation that happens in the sciatic nerve. It is a nerve that initiates in the lower portion of the spine and goes till the thighs. This can even lead to pains in the hips and also the thighs.
It can also be intense, pricking and numbing pain that eases out with proper cure.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy?
Bulging or issues with lumbar spine results in sciatic pain. This can also be the result of changes in the bone structure, narrowing of the spine, rupturing of the disc or an ailment related to the spine, all such situations stress on the sciatic nerve which results in acute back pain which is very common for most of the pregnant ladies.
Sciatic pain also happens due to a few reasons below as well:
- Tension in the muscles or joints
- Pain in the pelvic bone
- Joint pains
- Pain in the buttock muscles
All this is the result of the increase in the Relaxin, which is a pregnancy hormone and tends the ligaments to stretch and loosen in the pelvic structure. The additional baby weight also makes it more painful as it puts pressure on the hips and the pelvis and the sciatic nerve.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatic Pain During Pregnancy?
Sciatica is not a very common one but the ones who experience it, describe it as a very intense one.
Its symptoms consist of the following:
- Consistent pain in either side of the legs or buttocks
- Shooting and acute pain
- The feeling of being numb or having weak legs and foot
- Problems with standing, sitting, walking or jumping
- Pain that starts from the hips and goes till the thighs
Does Pregnancy Sciatica Go Away?
Sciatica is an acute pain that exudes from the hips to the rear side of the leg. The sciatica is supposed to disappear as soon as one delivers the baby. But in some instances, it may continue to appear during the initial days after delivery and then eventually vanishes.
What Can Make Sciatica Worse?
Sciatica pain is very painful and gets swollen after the disc gets degenerated, and it becomes worse if one is trying to sit for longer duration as while sitting the disc gets pressurised due to the posture, and it is better if one stands.
The Sciatica gets worsened if one is lifting heavy weights and too much of coughing also tends to worsen it further.
How Do You Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy?
Sciatic nerve pain can be painful even though it is not very common, but et very acute when it happens.
This pain can be treated by the following methods as below:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Exercises to stretch the leg muscles
- Exercises that help to reduce the pressure that is exerted on the sciatic nerve.
- Few women also find swimming to be very good as the water assists in supporting the weight of the baby.
- Sleep on the side which has less pain
- Do not sleep for a longer duration
- Keep taking small breaks amidst the day as that will enhance the blood circulation.
- Sitting for longer duration tends to increase or worsen the pain.
- Take small naps within the day.
- Be comfortable with the footwear as it helps to relieve pressure from the back.
One can even try the following five exercises to alleviate discomfort and pain
1. The piriformis stretch:
One can relieve the muscle tightness with this stretch and can help to reduce the sciatic pain. Follow the steps below to do this stretch:
- Keep the feel flat and sit on a chair
- In case the left portion is in pain, keep the left ankle over the right knee
- Keep the back straight and bend forward so that a stretch is felt in the hips.
- Keep it for 30 seconds and repeat within the day
2. The table stretch
This stretch helps the back muscles, hips and the rear portion of the legs.
- For this, one needs to stand with feet width apart from hips, facing the table
- Now move forward, keeping hands down, arms to be straight and back to be flat.
- Pull back the hips to feel the stretch in the back portion of the legs as well as the hips
- Keep this for about a minute and repeat twice daily.
3. Pigeon Pose:
One can get relief from the sciatic pain from this famous pose of yoga, so following the steps below will help the pregnant woman.
- Get down on the knees and hands.
- Slide the right knee so that it lies in between the hands.
- Now slide the left leg at the back, but the foot should be on the floor.
- Keep the yoga mat or block underneath the right side of the hip. This will allow the stretch to be smooth.
- Bend in the front on the right leg side
- Now bend gradually touching the ground by placing a pillow underneath the arms and head.
- Keep for a minute and repeat on both sides.
- Keep repeating several times a day
4. Hip flexor stretch
Hip flexors are those muscles that lie in the front portion of the hips and help with the movement of the leg while walking or jumping. Having tight hip flexors at the time of pregnancy can affect the posture, the pelvic arrangement, etc., which results in pain.
Following are the steps to do this stretch
- One needs to kneel on knees and hands
- Keep one foot on the front such that the knee and hip are at an angle of 90 degrees.
- Push yourself a bit in front so that the leg and the back hip can feel the stretch.
- Keep it for about 40 seconds and repeat again.
5. Glute and hamstring foam rolling-:
This stretch uses a foam roller that is helpful in massaging the muscles. It even helps to offer relaxation to the tight muscles that can increase pain later.
Follow the steps below:
- Keep the foam roller and sit on the foam taking support by keeping hands behind oneself.
- Cross one foot and the knee like a “4” position
- Move the body to and fro gradually on the foam roller till a comfortable spot is obtained.
- Repeat for 30-60 seconds
- Now repeat with the other foot and knee again.
How Can I Stop Sciatica Pain at Night?
Sciatica is not a permanent pain and subsides with time, it can reduce with the help of medications as well, but if the pain occurs at night, then the following steps should be taken.
- Good to keep alternating with hot and cold packs where it pains as that helps to relax the pain and enhance the blood flow as well.
- Alternate between a heat pack and an ice pack over the regions with pain, this will help relax muscles and increase blood flow in those areas.
- Use a firm mattress to sleep as a softer one can increase or worsen it further.
- Keep pregnancy pillows between the legs while at sleep so that it can help the pelvic area.
- Always lie on the back.
Thus, during pregnancy, the sciatic pain is quite a pain and can be enhanced by stretching exercises and by keeping a few tips in mind while sitting and standing as discussed above. The exercises also happen to reduce the tensed muscles and enhance the hip, leg and lower back movement. This pain worsens if one stands for longer hours, so it is advisable to keep switching from one position to the other. If the pain worsens, all activities should be stopped immediately, and medical help should be sought if one feels headaches, dizziness or bleeding while exercising.