Sciatica during pregnancy can add to the many discomforts experienced by a pregnant woman. Sciatica is the condition felt when the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed. The sciatic nerve is the nerve that runs the length of the lower back to the back of the legs down to the feet and is responsible for transmitting signals from the feet and legs to the brain. There are times, however, that the nerve becomes inflamed and this results to mild to intense pain on the leg.
Causes of Sciatica During Pregnancy
Sciatica during pregnancy may be caused by a number of spinal disorders. These include a bulging or herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, trauma which leads to the compression of the nerve, piriformis syndrome and spinal tumors. A bulging disc can compress the nerve when disc material bulges out and presses against the adjoining nerve root. In some cases, the disc material may contain an acidic chemical that irritates the nerve and causes inflammation. Lumbar spinal stenosis is another cause of sciatica during pregnancy. These occur when openings in the bone, called foramen, become obstructed or clogged, causing compression of the nerves that pass through them. Another cause of sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy is trauma. External forces that exert pressure on the lumbar or sacral nerve roots, such as pressure brought about by falls or rough sports can directly injure the nerves or cause muscles or broken pieces of bone to press against the nerve, causing pain. Piriformis syndrome result when the muscles press against the nerve. Spinal tumors located near the nerve can also press on it when they become large enough.
Dangers of Sciatica During Pregnancy
There is no serious danger when a pregnant woman experiences sciatica. However, it can cause extreme pain which can limit movement and the ability to exercise, which is very important for pregnant women. Sciatica during pregnancy often disappears by itself after six weeks or less.
Remedies for Sciatica During Pregnancy
Women who experience sciatica during pregnancy should stay as active as possible and practice gentle exercises to promote circulation to all parts of the body. Pelvic floor and core exercises will help strengthen the muscles in the lower back. Women can also wear a support belt to add more support to their legs and back. They should also avoid strenuous activities to lower risks of falls and other kinds of trauma. For acute pain, an ice pack on the lower back can help relieve the painful sensations of sciatica during pregnancy. Some women find that massage therapy can also help them tolerate the pain of sciatica better compared to pain medications. Some theories suggest that massage can help loosen and relax muscles which are too tight, allowing the sufferer to tolerate pain better.
Sciatica during pregnancy is a painful condition which can add to the discomfort already felt by pregnant women. Fortunately, this is rarely a serious condition and goes away by itself without any treatment. Plenty of rest, massage and gentle exercises can help alleviate the discomfort brought by sciatica during pregnancy.