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Pregnancy and Sciatica: What A Hamilton Osteopath Thinks You Need To Know

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

What Is Sciatica in Pregnancy?

Sciatica is a condition that can cause discomfort and pain due to an irritation of your sciatic nerve as it leaves your spinal cord. This irritation may be because a disc is touching the nerve and/or there is irritation near the nerve. The sciatic nerve originates in your lower back and travels through your buttocks and into your leg then all they way to your toes. While a disc herniation is the most common cause of sciatica, during pregnancy it is also possibly due to unstable or tight joints, postural changes, muscle tension and fluid retention.

If you experience sciatica during pregnancy, you may notice symptoms such as pain in your buttock that travels down the back of your leg to behind your knee and even to your foot. These symptoms may be worse in certain positions, such as sitting. This pain can be dull, shooting, sharp, or pins and needles-like. Additionally, you may have difficulty walking or standing, as well as numbness, weakness, or pins and needles in your affected leg. However, if you are having the following symptoms, please check with your Mid-wife urgently as these are signs of a more urgent condition - Leg pain, tingling or weakness on both legs, changes in urination or deification (not able to empty, not able to control etc), night sweats and lastly, any numbness around your genitalia. If you are unsure, just a quick text or call to your mid wife is a good idea 😊. Notably, these symptoms are very uncommon, continue reading below for more tips.

Tessa the Osteopath helping a client with pregnancy pain
Our Osteopath Tessa helping a client with pregnancy pain

Fortunately, there are several home based remedies to relieve sciatica symptoms during pregnancy.

  1. Daily, gentle walks can help keep your joints and muscles functioning optimally. Don't worry about how far or fast you are walking either. Several short walks or one decent walk per day is fine. Some hills are likely okay, but you may prefer to keep on flat paths. It may take some tinkering to find what suits you.

  2. As sciatica is often caused by irritation of the nerve (Not just the pressure of a disc on the nerve) eating a low inflammatory diet (low refined sugar) can be extremely helpful. You can ask your midwife what medication might be useful too.

  3. You can also try stretching. We often find a combination of these stretches helpful for pregnancy sciatica - Seated glute stretch - Childs pose - Sciatic Nerve Flossing -Cal Stretch

  4. Additionally, using a spiky massage ball, firm massage ball, a massage gun or a TENs unit onto your buttocks region can help relieve tight muscles.

If you're looking for more tailored treatment options for sciatica, osteopathic treatment is a safe and effective option, we offer osteopathy with acupuncture too. Don't hesitate to reach out or book an appointment online now to get back to enjoying pregnancy.

Written By Darryl Jenkins TLC Osteopaths Hamilton

Darryl Jenkins is a friendly osteopath and co-owner of TLC Osteopaths in Hamilton. Amongst various informal qualifications, his formal qualifications include a undergraduate certificate in Exercise science from Wintec, a degree in Human Biology from Unitec, and a master's degree in osteopathy from Unitec, where he also completed his thesis on human movement assessment. He also holds a postgraduate certificate in acupuncture from AUT and would like to be pursuing the postgraduate certificate in Pain Science at Otago Uni (awaiting spouse approval).

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