Pregnancy is the most exciting moment in a woman’s life. However, it brings lot of firsts that a woman may not have experienced before such as early morning nausea and vomiting, easy fatigue, frequent urination, fetal movements in the belly etc. While most women experience mild pain in the lower back, some woman may have grappling pain of sciatica during pregnancy.
Sciatica is a painful condition caused when the sciatic nerve is irritated. Sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body. It originates from the lower back of spine and travels through the pelvic girdle, back of the thigh and calf reaching the sole.When the nerve is irritated because of compression anywhere through its course, it produces severe pain in the leg, buttock and lower leg.
Usually sciatica during pregnancy occurs in the third trimester. Although the pain brings lot of discomfort to the woman, there are several treatment measures that can help to get relief from sciatica.
Causes Of Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy
Normally sciatica is caused by problems in lumbar spine which is the point of its origin. Bulging or herniated spinal disc, spinal canal stenosis or degenerative disc disease (spondylolisthesis) are the most probable causes of sciatica.All these condition can cause compression on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is not directly connected with pregnancy but there are so many factors that may trigger irritation due to compression of the nerve. These factors are as follows:
- Weight gain and retention of fluid is common during pregnancy. This may put pressure on the sciatic nerve when it travels through the pelvic girdle.
- Mechanical strain produced by enlarging gravid uterus can put pressure on the branch of sciatic nerve in the pelvis and lower region of the spine.
- Because of growing breast and the abdominal size, there is change in center of gravity in the body. As a result the body has to adjust to the lordotic curve of the spine. These leads to stretching of muscles in buttocks as well as in the pelvic girdle and subsequent strain on the sciatic nerve.
- Most often sciatica during pregnancy occurs in third trimester. This is because during this period the head of fetus adjusts and lies in the lower pelvic area which is just near the sciatic nerve. The weight of head may compress the nerve producing pain.
- The lax ligament in the pelvis during pregnancy has a role to play in causing sciatica pain. It occurs due to release of hormone relaxin in pregnancy.
- More risk for women if she is obese, smoking, or having osteoporosis.
Symptoms Of Sciatic Nerve Pain In Pregnant Women
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of sciatica in pregnant women:
- Radiating pain in one side of leg.
- Pain starts from buttock and radiates to the back of thigh, knee, calf and towards sole.
- Excruciating pain aggravated with physical exercise etc.
- Patient feels ameliorated when resting, lying down or walking. But standing for long time or sitting causes unbearable pain.
- Pain is sharp and shooting.
- Sensation of weakness in the affected leg.
- Pin and needle like sensation in toes.
- Low backache.
- Cramps in calf muscles.
Home Remedies For Sciatica During Pregnancy
Sciatica can cause discomfort for short period of time. It can be treated with pain killers and other medicines. But these medicines may not be recommended by the physician due to their side effects during pregnancy. Hence there are several home treatment measures that may be useful.
- Alternate hot and cold compresses on the painful side of the leg. It will help to alleviate pain.
- Pregnant women must remain active. However, she must avoid strenuous activities and lifting heavy weight.
- Avoid standing for long period of time.
- Sleep on the side that is free of pain. For example if the pain is in right side of leg, try to sleep on the left side.
- Place pillows between your legs while sleeping. It helps proper alignment of the pelvis.
- Swimming is helpful in relieving pressure that is put due to pregnancy weight. It will help to relieve the pain temporarily.
- Acupressure, massage and acupuncture are alternative measures that are beneficial to alleviate pain of sciatica.
- Homeopathic medicines such as arnica, rhustox, mag phos, gnapalium, are beneficial.