Sciatic nerve pain can be considered “normal” during pregnancy. Because it’s the weight of the baby or the uterus that’s putting pressure on the nerve. It doesn’t happen to everyone , but it’s quite common. But, if the sciatic nerve pain is only because of this, it will go away once the baby is born. If it lingers on, it’s because something’s compressing the sciatic nerve where it originates and causing the pain. And this definitely is not normal! It baffles me why women, especially after pregnancy, are not given enough information about looking after themselves. No, it’s not normal to feel back pain getting out of the bed first thing in the morning or even looking after your baby weeks after you’ve given birth. So first let’s understand what’s happened to your body during and after pregnancy:

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Why do you get sciatic nerve pain after pregnancy?

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Pregnancy is a beautiful thing but it also has tremendous impact on the muscles and joints of the back in a woman. It’s because of the various hormonal changes that happen to prepare your body both for pregnancy and child birth. There’s a hormone called relaxin that’s produced which makes the ligaments, that support the joint, very flexible. This places undue pressure on the muscles around the lower back and pelvis. The lower back is basically made up of 5 bones that unite on the sides to form joints and through the centre via discs. The discs are made up of a fibrous tissue with a gel like substance in the centre of it. There’s also a lot of pressure going through the discs that can cause them to be inflammed or bulged. Since the sciatic nerve originates very close to the disc, this can put pressure on the nerve causing sciatic nerve pain.

What sciatic nerve pain is not…

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This is a general misconception that if you feel buttock pain or even pain in your thigh , it could be sciatic nerve pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body! It starts from the lowermost area of your lower back and travels down to your leg giving out branches to supply the muscles of your legs. It goes all the way down to the big toe. So you can be assured that when and if you get sciatic nerve pain , you’re going to feel it all the way down to your toe! Or atleast the ankle. The pain does tend to be quite sharp and shooting. Most of the times it is on & off. But if it’s constant or you lose control of your bladder and bowel you do need to rush to the hospital immediately.

If the pain stays above your knee , for example in your buttock or the back of your thigh, it’s not sciatic nerve pain. There are other structures of the spine like the joint that can be causing the pain.

When to see us for sciatic nerve pain?

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As soon as you possibly can! If you’re still feeling sciatic nerve pain after your baby is born, you’ll need treatment.  Now I’ve been working with people suffering from chronic back pain and sciatic nerve pain for over 15 years. And the one thing I know is the sooner you start getting treated, the quicker you’ll recover. I’m not just saying this because I’m a physio, I do this for a living! Sciatic nerve pain is treatable. You have to make sure you see a physio who’s hands on, who’ll get in there and get your joints moving. There are specific techniques to treat sciatic nerve pain with great results. It’s not just about showing you exercises to do at home but also equipping you with advice about what to do and what to avoid for long term results. So don’t wait, look after yourself so you can look after your family.