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Back Pain and Pregnancy: Sciatica: A Real Pain In The Backside!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sciatica: A Real Pain In The Backside!

Sciatica is another constant companion of many a pregnant woman. Like indigestion, edema, and constant urination, sciatica tends to show up in the 2nd trimester. And like its companions it tends to stick around until the baby is born. The good news is that sciatica can be sent on its way rather quickly and leave you alone to deal with the indigestion, edema, and constant urination.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is an often misused term. Many people say they have sciatica if they have any lower back pain. However, sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body and the one that innervates the majority of the lower body) becomes pinched or irritated.

Sciatic pain follows a particular path from the lower back or hips and runs down the leg generally ending near the knee. Sciatic pain is often described as a burning pain or a pins and needles sensation. Numbness and tingling can occur as well. Sciatic pain makes it incredibly painful for a person to sit, stand, bend, or really do anything other than lay on their back.

Why is sciatica so often associated with pregnancy?

Sciatica in pregnancy is common for 2 reasons.

Our good friend relaxin is just doing his job and is allowing the pelvis to become hyper-mobile. (Read previous post on relaxin.) Unfortunately the sciatic nerve is attached in the pelvis and becomes irritated with all the unaccustomed movement.

As the baby grows, the uterus grows and puts pressure on the sciatic nerves and its surroundings. This weight is pulled forward, which increases the arch of the back and can lead to pressure on the sciatic nerve.

What can be done to ease the pain?

Sciatica can cause even the toughest to break into tears. It can be debilitating and miserable, but it doesn't have to last. Although it is tempting to stay in bed, not moving a muscle and praying to feel better, recent studies have shown that this is ineffective and can actually prolong the agony.
Getting up and moving while painful, will ultimately help the sciatic nerve.

Home remedies:
  • An ice pack applied for 10 minutes to the low back can help and is safe for pregnancy.
  • Sleep or lie down on your side with a pillow between your legs and one in the small of your back.
  • Try to stand as straight as possible and sit up straight.
  • Avoid standing or sitting for extended periods of time.
  • No heavy lifting.
Outside help:
  • Chiropractic is one of the best and safest treatments for sciatica. Using a gentle, low-force adjustment a chiropractor can free the sciatic nerve and allow normal impulses to return. A majority of women feel relief after the first treatment, and all but the rarest case are feeling fine by the 2nd or 3rd visit.
  • Some women find that acupuncture can really relieve the pain. It is believed to be safe for the baby and effective. Although it is great for pain relief, it does not correct the underlying structural problems causing sciatica, and it will return.
So, all you sciatica sufferers, get moving. Help your amazing body do its job without hurting you!

For more information about chiropractic visit

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Blogger bloomingrose said...

I am very intrigued about this because I experienced sciatica in both my pregnancy and I have seen it a lot in my work as a post-partum nurse.
One thing that was crucial to me was changing my stick shift car for an automatic. I am interested in what are the most effective chiropractic and acupuncture approaches, and if there are some accupressure points that can be pressed for relief. Rose

November 27, 2008 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Charles Foster said...

We love to take care of pregnant women. AS Mom's body is changing,changes occur in the pelvis, loosening of ligaments and the weight gain associated with a growing baby, these stresses often cause subluxation. Mom's need chiropractic care. The adjustment can benefit the unborn child as well. Check out this article.

Dr. Charles L. Foster
Rutland and Brandon, VT

October 31, 2011 at 7:59 AM  

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