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Tips for Avoiding Sciatica During Pregnancy

Tips for Avoiding Sciatica During Pregnancy

You know that you’re going to face some challenges during your pregnancy, but you want to do what you can to avoid some of the more unpleasant ones, which certainly describes back pain due to sciatica.

The odds of developing sciatica under any circumstance are quite high — up to 40% of people will develop the nerve compression issue at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the odds for pregnant women developing sciatica are even higher.

But odds aren’t done deals, and you can protect yourself against sciatica during your pregnancy. The team here at Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas reviews those below.

A quick word about sciatica and pregnancy

Before we get into prevention strategies for sciatica during pregnancy, let’s quickly review why these conditions are linked.

Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, formed by five nerve roots in your lower back. This nerve splits and travels down each buttock and leg, all the way down to each foot. 

When you have sciatica, something is pressing against this nerve, which can lead to localized lower back pain, as well as pain that shoots down one side of your lower extremities. While the pain certainly gets your attention, you can also experience numbness and tingling in your lower back, buttocks, and legs when you have sciatica.

As you might imagine, when you’re growing a fetus in your pelvic cavity, the chances of nerve compression in your lower back increase, especially in the third trimester. This can be due to direct contact between your unborn child and the nerve or a general shift in the structures in your lower back that pinches the nerve.

Best practices for preventing sciatica during pregnancy

We mentioned above that sciatica can occur when the fetus itself presses against your sciatic nerve, which, as you might imagine, isn't something you can prevent. That said, there are ways to relieve this type of sciatica, as well as prevent sciatica due to compression from other sources.

Build a strong core 

From the moment you find out that you’re expecting, it’s a very good idea to spend some time strengthening your core muscles, which includes your abdominal muscles, your pelvic floor, and your back muscles. This early work will go a long way toward supporting your spine during pregnancy and preventing nerve compression issues like sciatica.

 

Stretch, a lot

It’s a good idea to make stretching a daily habit, especially those stretches that target your back and hips. Whether you want to avoid or manage sciatica, why not start the day with a few sun salutations and get familiar with some other great yoga poses?

Go for a swim

As you enter your third trimester, your risks for sciatica really ramp up, so we suggest that you find a place to swim to keep active without stressing your back. Swimming is also great if you’ve already developed sciatica.

Don’t stand or sit for long periods

A big risk factor for sciatica is spending long periods on your feet, so we suggest that you try to limit standing around as much as possible. At the very least, prop one foot up at a time to relieve the stress on your lower back.

The same goes for sitting — if you spend hours reading or watching TV on a couch or at a desk at work, shift your position often.

Don’t gain too much weight

It’s important that you work with your OB/GYN to make sure that you're on track in terms of weight gain. If you gain too much weight too quickly, this can increase your risks for sciatica.

If sciatica strikes

If, despite your best efforts, you still develop sciatica during your pregnancy, we’re here to help. We can provide you with a great sciatica treatment plan with targeted physical therapy and pain-relieving strategies.

If you have more questions about sciatica and pregnancy, please call or message one of our locations in Waco, Arlington, Wichita Falls, and Fort Worth, Texas, today to schedule an appointment.

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