Ever suffered from sciatic nerve pain? Its a genuinely painful and debilitating condition that can leave you immobilised for quite some time. While conducting research for this article, I was surprised to discover that pregnancy does not automatically mean that you are more prone to sciatic nerve pain. In fact, sciatica can happen to anyone, at any time and in any age group.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is a major nerve stemming from the spinal cord in the lower back.
Sciatica is the pain experienced when pressure is placed on the nerve causing shooting or burning pain in the bottom, down the leg or in the ankle. The pressure can be caused by a number of factors including osteoarthritis, loosened muscles in the pelvic area, accidents or even from sitting on a hard chair. Did you know that when your “leg goes to sleep” this is also caused by pressure on your sciatic nerve?
Most cases of sciatica will normally settle within three months.
Symptoms of Sciatica
If you are experiencing pain in your lower back, hip, bottom or legs there are some key signs to determine if it is related to sciatica.
- Sharp or burning pain in your bottom
- Aches in your thighs, calves or bottom
- Pins and needles in the lower part of your body
- Foot and ankle pain
- Muscular problems in your legs
- Increased pain when coughing, lifting or straining
Symptoms will differ from person to person depending on age and the cause of the sciatic pain. Remember to always seek medical advice for chronic pain.
If you are pregnant and are experiencing sciatica, this could have been caused through the loosening of your muscles in your pelvic girdle area or a change in your posture causing pressure on the nerves in your lower back.
In most instances, the sciatic pain will stop after the birth of your baby. In the meantime, it can make for a very uncomfortable pregnancy.
Treatments for Sciatica
Bed rest was a common treatment for sciatica in the past but a recent Australian study established that this may actually exacerbate the problem. Gentle exercise like swimming is often recommended. Other treatments may include:
- Medication (if you are pregnant, please check the medication is suitable during pregnancy)
- Seeking treatment from a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
- Injections into the spine such as an epidural
- In more severe cases and as a last resort, surgery
What can I do at home?
There are a few simple things you can do at home to help sciatica associated pain.
- Take a warm bath
- Use an ice pack
- Take over the counter medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (again, if you are pregnant, please seek medical advice)
- Avoid activities that require you to bend your back
- Use correct posture
- Sleep on a mattress that is not too soft or too firm
- Use a lumbar support
During the third trimester of my pregnancy, I experienced terrible sciatica. I could barely move and was in pain for weeks. I really struggled but thankfully found a great remedial massage therapist who specialised in pregnancy. She worked her magic and although a temporary fix, this eased my pain significantly. It was an added bonus that my treatment was covered by my private health insurance. As soon as my son was born, the sciatic nerve pain disappeared.
Have you ever experienced sciatica pain? Were you pregnant at the time? What treatment did you seek?
If you become concerned about any symptoms please seek immediate medical attention – we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – http://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.