Do you know what the largest single nerve in the human body is? Well, it’s called the sciatic nerve. It runs from the lower spine through the back of the thigh, all the way down to the foot. It connects the spinal cord with the foot and leg muscles. Sciatic nerve pain can come on periodically, especially during pregnancy.
What is Sciatic Nerve Pain?- Sciatic nerve pain, also know as Sciatica, is not pleasant. Most women experience numbness or shooting pains in their back, buttocks, and thighs. It can feel like a burning sensation or the prick of needles. Sometimes the pain can come on quickly and be somewhat relieved. Other times the pain can be harsh enough to limit one’s mobility until the baby is born.
What Causes It? – It is believed that sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy is caused by pressure on the nerve from the developing baby. It can occur in any of the trimesters but mostly comes on in the second and third trimester, when the baby is growing bigger. The nerve runs under the uterus and connects to the legs. This location of the nerve (under the uterus) makes it difficult to avoid pressure on the nerve.
Home Remedies- There are several strategies one can use to control sciatic nerve pain. One way would be to avoid heavy lifting and standing up for long periods of time. If it is necessary to stand and pressure occurs, elevate one foot to rest it. Switch feet until the discomfort goes away. It also helps to lie down on your side (opposite of the side of pain). This assists in relieving pressure from the sciatic nerve. If pain continues, applying heat/cold packs to the troubled area may help with the soreness. These are all suggestions that women can do at home without seeing a doctor.
Chiropractor- Some Sciatica sufferers may choose to visit a chiropractor. With all the changes that occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy, the back can become quite unstable. Visiting a chiropractor for adjustments may help to extinguish some of the pain. Soft tissue massage can also be a temporary solution to Sciatica. Unfortunately, there are no real “cures” for this nerve pain, other than the birth of the baby and the pressure being released.
Diet and Exercise- With that being said, there are always tips to prevent the nerve pain from coming on so often. Eating right and exercising on a regular basis can help women whom become pregnant. It is thought that the women with stronger muscle tone are able to better cope with Sciatica because they have more control of their movements and can support their new body structure.
Posture and Sleep- As we know, lower backaches often are caused by poor posture. Pregnant women should focus on straight posture, thus not causing extra pressure on the lower back. Sleeping on a firm mattress will put less stress on the back. Even sleeping on the floor can make for a more pleasant sleeping environment, without pain.
Movement- Although some would guess that bed rest would be a great idea for patients with Sciatica, it truly is not. Bed rest causes loss of flexibility and strength. Tightening of muscles also occurs with long sessions of bed rest. It is important for women to continue movement during their day, even if it is kept to gentle movement. Most doctors will recommend that pregnant women try to keep active, minus heavy lifting and bending at the waist. Even sitting in one place for a long time will cause lower back pain, thus a quick walk around may be the key.
While Sciatica is not solely a condition that affects pregnant women, it does occur often enough. Even though there is no sure way to prevent it, there are ways to make it as tolerable as possible. Isn’t birthing a child enough, without all of the extra side affects that come with pregnancy?
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