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What Causes Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy?

Sciatica during pregnancy is caused by a number of factors, including hormonal changes, increasing weight and changing posture as the fetus grows. These factors can lead to pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower spine, through the pelvis and down the backs of the legs.

Sciatic pain is generally the result of hormonal changes, changes in posture and the increase in body fluid that is a normal part of pregnancy. Sciatica can affect one or both legs and may require physical therapy or spinal adjustment to relieve discomfort.

Table of Contents

Causes of sciatica pain during pregnancy

A number of physical conditions that are common during pregnancy can lead to pressure on the sciatic nerve and the appearance of sciatica symptoms.

Weight gain

The increased blood volume of pregnancy, increase in fluid and general weight gain can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the legs.

Pressure on the sciatic nerve due to excess weight

Increased weight that normally occurs during pregnancy can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve, causing troublesome symptoms.

Center of gravity shifts

The growth of the fetus in the uterus often causes changes in the center of gravity during movement that can lead to pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Muscle tension

Muscle tension can create pressure on connecting nerves that can lead to impingement of the sciatic nerve.

Tight muscles putting pressure on the nerve

Muscle tightness can cause pressure on nerves that run through the hip and buttocks and down the backs of the legs, which can result in sciatic nerve symptoms.

Impact on the spine and surrounding muscles

The physical and hormonal changes of pregnancy can have a significant impact on spinal function and surrounding muscles, posture, center of gravity and nerve function in the body.

Hormonal Changes

Pregnancy causes a variety of hormonal changes that can affect the structure and function of spinal bones, joints and muscles throughout the body. Relaxin, in particular, is a pregnancy hormone that is released in the body to prepare it for the stresses of birth. This hormone can cause looseness in muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Postural Changes

Increased weight and fluid in the body can cause you to change your normal posture, which can lead to spinal dysfunction and pressure on the sciatic nerve. Pregnant individuals should take particular care with their posture to ensure that they avoid back pain and nerve problems during pregnancy.

Existing spinal conditions

Individuals who have existing spinal conditions are at risk of developing significant back pain and sciatica during pregnancy. Stenosis, scoliosis, herniated discs and other problems can affect sciatic nerve function. Staying active, with walking and other forms of approved exercise can help to reduce the risk for sciatica problems.

Herniated or bulging discs

If you have an existing herniated or bulging disc in your spine, it could make you more likely to experience sciatica discomfort. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spinal vertebrae. When a disc becomes damaged, its displacement can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve.

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal through which nerves run to the extremities. This narrowing can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in discomfort and numbness.

Frequently Asked Questions


What can I do for sciatica pain while pregnant?

Fortunately, you can use a number of methods to relieve sciatic nerve symptoms. Ice packs and hot packs, applied alternately, can help reduce discomfort. Gentle stretches and pre-natal yoga can provide some relief. Physical therapy exercises can be useful in reducing discomfort. Your doctor may okay over-the-counter pain relievers to use to relieve discomfort from sciatica.

What week does sciatica start in pregnancy?

Some people experience pressure on the sciatic nerve very early in pregnancy, while others may not have a problem until later in pregnancy when the growing fetus in the uterus causes pressure on nerves.

Can sciatica affect birth?

Varying degrees of pressure on the sciatic nerve during the birth process can cause pain, tingling and other symptoms. Changing your position can often help to relieve discomfort.

Is walking good for sciatica in pregnancy?

Walking is a good remedy to relieve sciatica during pregnancy, because it improves circulation in the legs and reduces inflammation. However, you should be careful to maintain good posture during your walk to prevent putting additional pressure on the sciatic nerve.

How do you massage a sciatic nerve while pregnant

Gentle massage of the lower back, where the sciatic nerve root is located, and down the backs of the legs can help to promote blood circulation to the affected area to relieve discomfort.

Will sciatica go away after pregnancy?

Most people experience relief from sciatica pain after the birth of the child. However, if you have an underlying spinal problem, sciatica symptoms may continue after birth.

Unbearable sciatica pain pregnancy first trimester

Some individuals may experience severe sciatic nerve pain in the 1st trimester. This discomfort usually results from changes in fluid volume in the body that result from pregnancy and the enlargement of the uterus from the growing fetus. The problem can be helped with gentle stretches or physical therapy.

Sciatica pain pregnancy second trimester

The likelihood of developing sciatic pain in the second trimester can increase due to increasing weight and the growth of the fetus, which can cause the woman to compensate with changes in body posture. Gentle stretches, chiropractic care and approved medications can help to relieve sciatic discomfort.