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Sciatica during pregnancy: what it is and how we can relieve the pain

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Pregnancy is a process of total change of the women’s body on many levels , from the most visible and physical ones such as the belly itself, swollen ankles or stretch marks , to internal changes that cannot be seen from the outside but that they do feel. the pregnant ones Sciatica pain is one of them, a condition that is estimated, according to the Federation of Midwives of Spain , to affect more than 35% of pregnant women .

One of them is Ana Peleteiro , who since announcing that she was pregnant just a month ago we have already been able to see training with routines adapted to pregnancy and incorporating specific stretching . The athlete confessed to her Instagram followers that she had been suffering from intense sciatic nerve pain for a few days , located on her left side, which had forced her to temporarily pause her training.

As Ana explains in her stories, it is a very annoying ailment -although the intensity of the pain varies from one woman to another- that becomes more acute as we spend more time sitting in the same position. Although there is no way to eradicate it immediately, today we are going to see some tips to reduce the pain as much as possible .

What is the sciatic nerve

To begin to understand what sciatica is and why it hurts, let’s first see where the sciatic nerve itself is. This, which runs from the lower spine to the toes , is the largest and longest nerve in the body and is responsible for connecting the spinal cord with the leg muscles. Hence, when the sciatic nerve hurts, the pain can spread from the buttock to the leg and, sometimes, the feet.

Why does sciatica arise?

sciatica pain
sciatica pain

Sciatica is not unique to pregnancy, as it occurs when the sciatic nerve receives external pressure . Pressure that may have origins other than pregnancy, such as poor posture, herniated discs or increased pressure on the piriformis muscle (known as piriformis syndrome ).

If we focus exclusively on the causes that cause sciatica during pregnancy, the reasons are usually linked mainly to the increase in the size of the uterus during the gestation period . And it is that the uterus can increase up to 20 times its size, sometimes reaching the sciatic nerve and causing pain.

How to relieve sciatic nerve pain

As sciatica pain is caused by external pressure on the nerve, the truth is that there is no magic method that will make it disappear immediately. But the truth is that there are some recommendations that we can follow to alleviate and try to alleviate the pain as much as possible . Of course, it is essential that if the pain becomes too sharp and unbearable, we go to the doctor as soon as possible for a more complete assessment.

Stay as active as possible

As Ana Peleteiro herself commented in her stories, normally when sciatica pain becomes more acute is when you are sitting. That is why it is important for her to be as active as possible . It does not mean that you have to start training like crazy – in fact it is recommended to pause training until the pain begins to subside – but it does mean that you walk around the house or go outside for a while. In summary: that you move a lot (always within what the pain allows, of course).

Have good postural hygiene

Although in pregnant women sciatic nerve pain is usually caused by the expansion of the uterus, something that we cannot do anything about, the truth is that maintaining a good posture can help it settle down and stop putting pressure on the uterus. nerve . Pay attention to your back -the straighter it is, the better- and to your hips -try to have them forward-.

Avoid being on your feet for a long time

Although, as Ana Peleteiro comments in her stories, standing helps mitigate the pain, the truth is that it is a temporary relief. So if we stand for a long time in the same position, the pain will return. The key? Move. We can stand up and take short walks around the house, for example. The important thing is not to stay in the same position for a long time .

Apply heat to the affected area

The heat helps to dilate the blood vessels, which in turn helps the blood to flow better, something that encourages the muscles to relax. So if we apply heat to the sciatic nerve we can help reduce the pressure on it , thus reducing the pain. How can we apply this heat? Water bags, thermal blankets, heat creams…

Forget high heels

Surely you have ever heard that pregnant women can not wear heels . Well, it is not exactly that they cannot, because they are not prohibited as such, but they are certainly not the most recommended. And the reason is none other than the sciatic nerve. Since high-heeled shoes, especially those that exceed 5-6 centimeters, make us have a posture that helps increase pressure on the nerve. Which could lead to more acute pain.

Use an orthopedic pillow

Have you ever heard of “pregnancy pillows”? Well, they exist and help relieve sciatica pain. Since they allow you to lie on your side, place yourself in the position that best suits you to alleviate those pains and maintain it throughout the night . In addition, they also help combat insomnia that pregnant women often suffer.


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