Many prenatal women experience back pain during pregnancy and the most common cause is sciatica. The sciatic nerve is a long nerve that runs from the lower back all the way down to the feet. When pain occurs along this nerve, the condition is known as sciatica.
What is sciatica caused by?
Sciatica during pregnancy is typically caused by the enlarged uterus pressing down on the nerve causing impingement. This increased pressure causes pain, tingling, or numbness in the lower back, buttocks, and thighs. It may affect one or both sides of the body and can cause much discomfort.
Dr. Dawn Andalon, a physical therapist who specializes in treatment for pregnant and postpartum women suffering from sciatica, reports that sciatica is the most common complaint she sees in her clinic among pregnant women.
"Women suffering from sciatica in pregnancy are so frustrated because they worry that the problem won't resolve itself until after they deliver. They are often unable to do the exercise, work, and home activities that they were previously able to perform without an increase in pain,” said Dr. Dawn.
Luckily, there is a solution to alleviating prenatal sciatica, and that is working with health and fitness professionals that specialize in helping women with this issue. Seeing a certified Women's Health Physical Therapist will help your body relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve, and re-teach your body how to move in the right way without increasing discomfort.
In our office (Level 4 PT & Wellness in Encinitas, California), we find a customized hip and core strengthening program, teaching proper techniques that help alleviate the pain, plus regular massages from a prenatal Massage Therapist will help with the muscle tension, aches and pains common in the third trimester. This can also improve prep for labor and delivery, plus help women recover with greater ease after childbirth.
You are not alone when it comes to dealing with sciatica in pregnancy. There is no need to just "grit your teeth and bear it". You deserve to have a healthy, happy, and comfortable pregnancy.
Sciatica is commonly seen during the third trimester as your belly and breasts begin to shift your weight and center of gravity forward. Most women experience pain on one side, although it is not uncommon to feel it on both sides.
To alleviate some of this discomfort, try the following at home remedies:
Use a warm compress
Rest in a comfortable position
Place a pillow between your legs to align your pelvis and alleviate some of the pressure off the nerve
Try these three exercises to release pain and tension:
Seated Figure 4 Stretch
Lat Stretch using a Table or Chair