January 15, 2018

What is sciatica during pregnancy and is there relief?

Diseases and Conditions | Neck, Back and Spine | Non-operative Care


Sciatica is a radiating, often burning, pain that goes from the lower back or buttock down the leg. Many pregnant women experience this irritating shooting lower back and leg pain. The frequency of sciatica increases as the pregnancy progresses and is most common in the third trimester.

What causes sciatica pain during pregnancy?

According to Dr. Meredith Langhorst, OrthoIndy non-operative spine physician, “Sciatica during pregnancy is due to the increasing amounts of the hormone relaxin in the mom’s system that causes the ligaments to loosen in preparation for childbirth.”

Although the loosening is normal, it shifts your center of gravity, which can cause the sciatic nerve to become inflamed or pinched.

How to avoid sciatica in pregnancy

Fortunately, much of the sciatic pain can be avoided by following these quick tips.

  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Gain weight slowly
  • Stretch
  • Try Yoga
  • Get a massage
  • Stay active
  • Minimize standing for long periods of time

Too late, I am already experiencing sciatica pain during pregnancy, how do I find relief?

Fortunately, much of the sciatic pain can be improved with a comprehensive, conservative care program. Dr. Langhorst suggests trying the following to seek relief for sciatic pain.

  • Manual manipulation: A chiropractor can help treat sciatic pain; however, make sure he or she is aware you are pregnant.
  • Physical therapy: Work with a physical therapist to come up with an exercise program that combines stretching and strengthening or try the exercises below.
  • Pelvic tilts and kegels: Starting pelvic tilts and kegels early in pregnancy and continuing can help keep your pelvic floor engaged.
  • Lay on your side: When resting or sleeping, lay on your side and use a firm mattress.
  • Heat: The use of a heating pad can help relieve soreness and for pain that is persistent.
  • Pain medication: Always consult a physician before taking pain medication during pregnancy. Typically, Tylenol is safe for most pregnant women to take.

Exercises to help sciatica during pregnancy

There are easy exercises you can try at home to relieve sciatica in pregnancy.

“The good news is that sciatica often resolves after the baby is born and you can enjoy your time with your new little addition to the family,” says Dr. Langhorst. However, if your sciatica is still causing issues make an appointment with an OrthoIndy non-operative pain management physician today or learn more about neck and back pain treatment at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

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Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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