That nagging pain in your butt! The sciatic nerve begins at the lower end of the spinal cord, exits between your low back vertebrae, runs down the buttocks and thighs, then splits right above the knee. It then runs down the back of the lower leg and outer part of the foot. As you can see this is why you might feel pain all the way from the low back down to the foot. So, Sciatica is the pain that is felt along the path of the nerve. It is usually described as sharp, shooting pain with tingling or numbness as well. It important not to confuse this with other types of pregnancy pains. You may feel pain in your Sacroiliac Joint which is the joint that connects your spine to your hips. If you’ve ever noticed the dimples in your low back, that’s where the SI joint is. SI pain is usually local to that area unlike the radiating pain of sciatica. You might feel radiating pain down the side of your leg instead of the back of the leg, this might be due to tight IT bands and not the sciatic nerve. So, before you stress out because you think you might have sciatica, it’s best to get checked out by your healthcare practitioner.
Why do I have Sciatica with my Pregnancy?
Sciatica occurs during pregnancy for a number of different reasons.
- Remember how we said the Sciatic nerve exits between your low back vertebrae? Well, sometimes that’s the problem. If you think about your low back and the curve that is there when you are not pregnancy versus the curve that is there when you are pregnant, you might notice that the curve is much more pronounced. So, this shift can irritate and aggravate the sciatic nerve.
- In rare cases, a vertebral disc issue may be causing pressure on the nerve root coming from between the lumbar vertebrae causing the sciatica.
- During pregnancy we also retain water and and this retention basically causes swelling of tissues which can compress the nerve and cause the pain.
- The gluteal (butt) muscles may be the cause. If these muscles (especially the piriformis) tighten up they can also compress the sciatic nerve because they sit right on top of it. Maybe you do have SI joint pain and so your gluteals are tensing up to try to create stability and now you’re getting sciatic pain as well. That’s what we call a hot mess, get yourself some care!
- Your uterus or the baby can also cause this pain. Unfortunately as baby shifts around, the little peanut can also compress the nerve in the low back area and cause that pain.
How can Chiropractic help my Sciatica?
First and foremost your chiropractic physician will do an exam and figure out what is causing your sciatic pain. From there treatment begins and usually includes soft tissue massage, gentle adjustments specific to the pregnant woman’s pelvis and stretching and exercises. The soft tissue massage will help loosen up your tight muscles, especially if those glutes are squeezing that sciatic nerve. The Chiropractor will most likely implement Webster Technique to adjust your pelvis. The adjustments will help with the strain from the increased curve in your low back and can help optimize fetal positioning, if baby’s positioning is compressing the nerve. Stretches and exercises give you tools to be able to maintain the improvements made during your visits. These tools are great to help relieve pain after a long day that has aggravated the sciatica. So, get into your local Pre-natal Chiropractor if you think Sciatica might be something that has come to ruin your seemingly nice and easy pregnancy.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
Dr. Neha Shah
Chiropractic Physician | Webster Technique Certified
White Oak Family Wellness
405 Illinois Ave. Suite 2b
St. Charles, IL 60174
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