Sciatica in pregnancy

We Osteopaths are not unused to treating patients with sciatic symptoms however pregnancy adds other dimensions that need to be considered.

As the pregnancy progresses the uterus increases in size and both the soft-tissue and the joints of the hips, pelvis and low back all have to adjust their relative positions to accommodate the change. The sciatic nerve, exiting each side of the lumbar spine and travelling down through the pelvic area to supply the legs, can be affected greatly, particularly during the last 3 months of pregnancy when the centre of gravity of the mother moves forward as the weight of the baby increases. This causes an increased curve in the bottom of the back (the lumbar spine) which can cause compression on the sciatic nerve as it leaves the spine. The sciatic nerve can also be compressed by a number of soft-tissues in the buttock, such as the pirformis muscle, especially as the postural muscles in the buttock muscles try to counter-act the postural shift forward. All these sciatic nerve pressure points can cause leg and back pain.

So it is up to the Osteopath to identify where along the path of the sciatic nerve the compression is taking place and take the stress off the spine and pelvis with conservative treatment. Simultaneously, the Osteopath can address any other musculo-skeletal issues that may be present – such as pelvic girdle pain or mid to upper back pain – and explain in more detail the cause of the symptoms and discuss the best ways to relieve them with stretches, exercises and other adjuncts.

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