On Your Health

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Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy


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The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, running from your uterus to your legs. It connects the spinal cord to your leg and foot muscles and when you’re pregnant, the most sensitive area of the sciatic nerve can easily become inflamed. Although this inflammation is very common during pregnancy, it can cause major discomfort in the lower back and legs. This often leaves women frantically searching for answers.

What is sciatica?

According to Dr. Gregory P. Root, an OBGYN specializing in women’s health at INTEGRIS, “Sciatica is a term often used for many different musculoskeletal problems. Many doctors prefer the term ‘lumbar radiculopathy,’ which is a disease process that affects the function of one or more of the lumbosacral nerves. This can have many different causes and usually requires a detailed workup by a physician.”

Where do you feel sciatic nerve pain?

Dr. Root explains that sciatic nerve pain usually causes a sharp pain that travels down the back part of the leg and into the foot. It can be accompanied by pain with movement or weakness while trying to lift or lower the affected leg or foot. Sometimes sciatica can lead to great pain while bending the knee.

Sciatica during pregnancy

Pregnancy itself is often not the cause of sciatica or lumbosacral radiculopathy. The root cause is usually an underlying condition caused by posture changes that occur naturally during pregnancy. “Maternal and infant growth during pregnancy cause the lumbar portion of the spine to change, which in turn, changes the way a mother walks or stands,” Dr. Root says. “These changes have a chance to worsen a disease process that was already present.”

A few common underlying or root causes of this type of pain could be:

·         Degenerative changes in the spine from aging

·         Disc protrusion or what some call a “slipped disc”

·         Congenital abnormalities

·         Infectious diseases

·         Inflammatory conditions or even malignancy

These are only a few of the many reasons why it is always important to consult a physician when you experience these types of symptoms during pregnancy. 

How to cure sciatica

The truth is, there isn’t necessarily a cure for sciatica, other than delivering the baby and relieving the pressure that’s placed on your spine. However, Dr. Root says, “I prefer a multidisciplinary approach with physical therapy, primary care physicians and even orthopedic specialists to devise a personalized plan for an individual. As with any pregnancy, I recommend expecting mothers seek counseling from their obstetrician prior to participating in any treatment.”

Remedies to help cure the pain of sciatica

Many popular sources, like the BUMP, suggest a pregnancy girdle to help distribute your weight more evenly, a hot or cold compress on the affected area, stretching or yoga and staying off your feet. However, everyone’s sciatic nerve pain is unique and should be treated with an individualized program.  At INTEGRIS we cover all aspects of your women’s health needs. Connect with one of the OBGYN’s in a location near you.

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