Sciatica During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Sciatica During Pregnancy Symptoms

The symptoms of sciatica are often described as follows:

Painful or burning sensations in your lower back, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet. You may feel it when walking or even sitting down. Sometimes it’s worse when standing up from a chair.

Itching, pressure or numbness in your legs.

You may have difficulty moving around due to the pain. If you’re lying down, you might not be able to stand up straight without assistance. Your knees may feel like jelly. You’ll need help getting out of bed and into a wheelchair if necessary.

Your body feels stiff and sore all over, especially your lower back, hips and legs.

Sometimes you may experience extreme weakness and fatigue.

If you have sciatica during pregnancy, you will likely suffer from these symptoms throughout your pregnancy. You could even develop complications such as pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) or gestational diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar). These complications can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. There is no cure for sciatica during pregnancy but there are treatments available to ease its symptoms.

With the right treatment, you can continue your pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.

Sciatica During Pregnancy Causes

The causes of sciatica during pregnancy are usually the same as those for non-pregnant women. There are several factors that can cause lower back pain during pregnancy such as:

Lumbar disc herniation (bulging or ruptured disc) in your lower back.

Piriformis syndrome, a condition that causes sciatic nerve irritation in the hip area.

Sciatic nerve irritation in your lower back caused by lumbar spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, the joint connecting your pelvis to your spine.

Muscle tension or tightness in your back and legs.

Prolonged standing or sitting such as during long car rides or plane travel.

Carrying extra weight, especially in the midsection.

Sitting for long periods of time at work or while caring for children.

Exercising too much or doing activities that are too physically demanding.

Pregnancy hormones relax your pelvic muscles and ligaments. This can cause your lower back to overextend or “slip” out of place, causing pain in the back of your legs, feet and bottom.

Sciatica During Pregnancy Treatments

Treatments for sciatica during pregnancy will be determined by your physician based on the cause of the pain. Here are some of the more common treatments for lower back pain during pregnancy:

Rest

Your doctor may tell you to stop doing activities that make your sciatica worse. You should try not to do anything strenuous such as exercising or lifting heavy objects. If you have a desk job, you may be able to continue working as usual. But if you’re a cashier or drive long distances for your job, you should probably avoid these activities.

Sources & references used in this article:

Back pain during pregnancy and after childbirth: an unusual cause not to miss by K Ashkan, ATH Casey, M Powell… – … the Royal Society of …, 1998 – journals.sagepub.com

Incidence and risk factors of herniated lumbar intervertebral disc or sciatica leading to hospitalization by M Heliövaara, P Knekt, A Aromaa – Journal of Chronic Diseases, 1987 – jclinepi.com

Risk factors for low back pain and sciatica by M Heliövaara – Annals of medicine, 1989 – Taylor & Francis

Sciatica: review of epidemiological studies and prevalence estimates by K Konstantinou, KM Dunn – Spine, 2008 – journals.lww.com

Multicentre trial of physiotherapy in the management of sciatic symptoms by CE Coxhead, TW Meade, H Inskip, WRS North… – The Lancet, 1981 – Elsevier

Trial of pregabalin for acute and chronic sciatica by S Mathieson, CG Maher, AJ McLachlan… – … England Journal of …, 2017 – Mass Medical Soc

Sciatica in the female patient: anatomical considerations, aetiology and review of the literature by AWT Al-Khodairy, P Bovay, C Gobelet – European Spine Journal, 2007 – Springer