Sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy occurs when the nerve is subjected to intense pressure resulting from the growing baby in the womb.
Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, is common amongst pregnant women. The sciatic nerve runs from the base of the spine (lower back) all the way down to the feet ( ankles). This longest nerve in the human body also passes under the uterus (womb). During pregnancy, the developing fetus exerts excessive pressure on the sciatic nerve. As a result, the nerve becomes inflamed and causes severe pain.
Extra weight gain during pregnancy is the primary cause of sciatica. Undue pressure compresses the nerve, thereby causing great discomfort. Sciatic pain is different from leg cramps or lower back pain. It is a sharp pain that shoots up from the lower back and goes all the way down to the legs. Sciatica is quite common and generally occurs 12 weeks after pregnancy. Many women experience sciatic pain during their entire pregnancy period. Persistent pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause backache and other problems such as weakness in the legs.
Some changes in the sleeping postures can help decrease the pain. For instance, lying on the side of the body that is not experiencing pain can provide some relief. Standing or sitting for a long duration can aggravate the pain. So it is better to avoid such activities. Lifting heavy objects should also be avoided as it can trigger sciatic nerve pain. One can also take the help of a physical therapist in case the pain is frequent and unbearable. Pregnant women with severe sciatic pain are often advised to consult a physical therapist in order to know some pregnancy exercises that relieve the pain. In some cases, the patients are asked to meet a massage therapist. This is because massage can effectively decrease the inflammation and muscle tension associated with sciatica.
The pregnancy discomfort can also be treated with painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol). This medicine has been tested and does not cause any damage to the unborn baby. Some doctors also recommend hot compresses or a warm bath to make the pain less severe. Application of heating pads to the painful area is an effective method to deal with sciatica pain. There are various products like the Belly Sling that help decrease the pressure on the nerve.
Prenatal yoga has also been beneficial to lessen the pain. Although it may not eliminate the pain completely, prenatal yoga can reduce the inflammation and provide some relief from this pregnancy discomfort. It is essential to consult a health care provider if the pain is constant or increases with time. In most cases, sciatic nerve pain reduces considerably and eventually vanishes after childbirth. In some women, the pain lasts for a few days or weeks after childbirth. An easy way to prevent nerve pain is to avoid remaining in one posture for a long time, thereby decreasing the chances of putting undue pressure on the nerve.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.