Sciatica during pregnancy is one of the most unpleasant and painful problems for a woman. Back pain associated with sciatica can turn pregnancy into an even more difficult period, as this disease is very hard to tolerate both physically and psychologically.
Back pain does not necessarily indicate sciatica during pregnancy. This may be just a result of increased stress on the spine. But the carrying of a child, though not so often, can become the root cause of this disease.
What is Sciatica?
In fact, it is an inflammation or a pinch of the sciatic nerve. It is known that the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It originates in the lumbosacral part of the spine and runs along the leg, providing sensitivity to the muscles of the feet and legs.
Why Is Sciatica Associated with Pregnancy?
The cause of inflammation of the sciatic nerve can be pressure in the back or injury, which leads to severe pain. Constant pressure on the sciatic nerve can lead to weakness of the legs and other areas of the lower body, numbness and tingling sensations in the limbs.
Although sciatica is not associated with pregnancy directly, many pregnant women suffer from sciatica. In most cases, the cause of sciatica during pregnancy is a damage of one of the vertebral discs. During pregnancy, women are more prone to spinal injuries that cause inflammation in surrounding tissues or lead to direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. In some cases pelvic pain during pregnancy can be confused with pain in sciatica.
Why Does Sciatica during Pregnancy Take Place?
Increased physical exertion and even stress can provoke the pinch of the sciatic nerve. But besides this, experts identify other factors that can lead to sciatica during pregnancy:
- An increase in body weight, which begins to put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- The growing uterus, which also exerts pressure on the spine and sciatic nerve.
- The position of the child in the third trimester of pregnancy. At this time, the baby can change his position, which often leads to pain in the legs, back and other body parts.
- Various diseases, for example, diabetes mellitus.
- Abscess or bleeding in the pelvis.
Causes of Sciatica
The period of pregnancy is a special time when the body of a woman undergoes not only external but also internal changes. In this case, the main causes of sciatica during pregnancy are directly related to the restructuring of the functions of the female body:
- the uterus increases in size and puts pressure on internal organs;
- the load on the spine and bone of the hip joint increases as well.
These are the most common causes of the disease. There are also a number of other factors capable of provoking pinching of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy:
- osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine;
- excessive muscular tension in the lumbar spine;
- sexually transmitted infections;
- mechanical trauma of the spine due to impact or fall;
- abscesses and blood clots;
If there is a pinch, an inflammatory process occurs, not only nerve fibers suffer, but also blood vessels. That’s why it is so important to consult a doctor as soon as possible if you have sciatica during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Sciatica during Pregnancy
Inflammation of the sciatic nerve is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Tingling sensation in the back, legs, feet.
- Sharp, shooting pain or burning sensation in the legs, buttock or lower back.
- Painful sensations in the lower back or pelvic region.
- Numbness of feet.
In some cases, another sign of sciatica may be a rise in body temperature. In rare cases, loss of control over the functioning of the intestine and bladder is possible. Sciatica during pregnancy differs in one feature – pain sensations always appear only on one side of the body.
Women suffering from sciatica feel shooting pain and paralyzing numbness in the lower back and the buttock area. Sometimes such feelings appear in the area of the thighs. The pain can be so strong that any movement becomes difficult. It must be remembered that during pregnancy, sciatica is caused by the position of the fetus inside the uterus. Therefore it is almost impossible to solve the problem until the labor.
How to Prevent Pinching of the Sciatic Nerve during Pregnancy?
Most gynecologists agree that the best prevention of sciatica during pregnancy is adherence to a healthy lifestyle. It is important to monitor your weight, find time for physical activity (yoga or special gymnastics). Do not lift weights, buy a comfortable orthopedic mattress and a special pillow for pregnant women, which will provide a comfortable sleep at any time of the day.
If you have already experienced unpleasant symptoms of sciatica during pregnancy, we advise you to consult a doctor immediately. Massage, swimming, visiting an osteopath or a chiropractor can facilitate the painful sensations. But remember that before you make an appointment with one of these specialists, be sure to consult the doctor who controls your pregnancy.
Before you start treating sciatica by yourself, think twice, because not always the above symptoms characterize the pinch of the sciatic nerve. It can be pathology of the kidneys – pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis and others.
This is the main reason why doctors do not recommend self-medication not only to pregnant women, but also to other patients if the sciatic nerve is blocked.
Therapy in pregnant women is conducted with caution, so as not to harm the fetus. They are recommended to go on bed rest on a hard surface. Only a doctor can prescribe drugs – it can be anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications.
The doctor can explain how to properly take them and how to introduce them into the body in order to minimize or avoid a negative effect on the fetus. The doctor can also prescribe therapeutic gymnastics and acupuncture.
Treatment of this pathology in pregnant women has its own peculiarities and complications, which only a qualified specialist can understand. To eliminate the manifestations of the pathology, doctors use conservative medication and non-traditional treatment.
With pharmaceutical treatment, medications are mainly allocated in the form of gels, ointments, solutions for injections and rubbings. After all, pills often have a negative effect on the health of the fetus.
The safest are the medicines used for external use. They do not enter the bloodstream of a pregnant woman. Thus, they can not harm the child.
Performing individually selected exercises allows you to eliminate muscle spasm, which helps in reducing the severity of the pain syndrome.
If you do not immediately understand how to perform the selected set of exercises correctly, you need to try doing the exercises under the specialist’s control.
Sciatica Treatment during Pregnancy
The main difficulty in the treatment of sciatica during pregnancy is the limited or total exclusion of the possibility of taking medications. For this reason, the standard therapy scheme does not work. However, adherence to medical recommendations will help to remove the symptoms accompanying the pinch of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy:
- Bed rest. In this case, the main rule is that the mattress should be firm.
- Massage is one of the most effective ways to combat sciatica during pregnancy. However, a doctor’s consultation is necessary to determine the type of massage for sciatica – classical or manual.
- Baths with therapeutic effect. For such procedures, sea salt is used. But the baths have time limitations and can be taken only in the first trimester of pregnancy. At a later date, such baths may provoke premature birth.
- Physiotherapy. You can perform exercises at home. A number of exercises were created especially for pregnant women that can alleviate the symptoms of a pinch of the sciatic nerve. With their help, the back muscles are strengthened.
- Compresses. With their help, blood flow increases and pain is relieved.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Pregnant women should choose models on a flat sole or with a heel up to 3 centimeters.
- Maintaining proper posture reduces muscle tension as well.
- With severe pain, injections of drugs may be prescribed for treatment. But in most cases, unconventional therapies help to remove the symptoms of sciatica.
Sciatica Relief during Pregnancy
Only a professional doctor can pick up drugs and decide what to do in a particular situation. He must also take into account the timing of pregnancy, the physical condition of the patient, in order to choose the therapy as precisely as possible.
Like any disease, it is easier to prevent sciatica than to feel its consequences. Experienced neurologists advise to avoid uncomfortable shoes, protect the waist from drafts, and avoid heavy unregulated loads.
Doing yoga or other gymnastics, walking in the fresh air and wearing a special bandage will help not only strengthen the muscle corset, but also prepare the body for childbirth, making pregnancy a pleasant period without illnesses.
A future mother may experience pain and unpleasant discomfort when the sciatic nerve hurts during pregnancy. It upsets and causes additional stress. Exercises can relieve pain, reducing muscle tension and increasing mobility in the hips, lower back and legs. Pain may worsen if you sit or stand for a long period of time. Therefore, be sure to change your positions during the day.
Listen to your body and stop the actions that cause pain in the hip joint. Make sure to consult your doctor before starting your workout. If you have any symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches or bleeding, stop doing exercises and get medical help.