Wondering how to manage sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy? Well, there are in fact lots of treatment options available to you. So what exactly is sciatic nerve pain? Commonly known as sciatica, it is a symptom that causes shooting pain from the lower back down through the legs and to the feet. In many people, this can be a chronic condition that only gets worse during the progression of pregnancy.
The very first step to recovery is to gain an understanding on what is causing sciatica. Most often, it is a problem associated with the vertebrae as it put pressure on the sciatic nerve. However, in some cases, it may be caused by a herniated disc, muscular tension, sacral bone fractures, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and a retroverted uterus. Other than conventional drugs treatment, you can consider some of the best ways discussed below to manage sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.
Stretching exercises and yoga can provide huge relief for sciatica sufferers. Many cases of nerve impingement and back pain are due to muscular tension, which can be relieved easily by stretching the tense muscles. Yoga can be a double-edged sword and in certain cases, should not be practiced lightly. In fact, there are many cases of people developing sciatica from yoga practice.
This is because these people had pre-existing spinal problems or are taking yoga classes from unlicensed practitioners, web sites or instructional videos. If you are taking classes from a trained and qualified yoga instructor, there are several specific yoga positions which are not only safe, but also helps to release muscle tension and pressure on the sciatic nerve. In an effort to study these specific yoga poses and their effects on sciatica, the Institute of Medical Sciences in India funded a clinical study in 2013 involving sixty participants suffering from sciatica.
After four weeks of regular yoga practice, the participants’ symptoms of sciatica, including tenderness, pain, rigidity and walking difficulties reduced dramatically.This is a good example of yoga when it is performed properly, with the health and well-being of the participants in mind. So, if you are looking for a healthy option to relieve sciatic pain, visit your local yoga center. Today, many centers actually run classes specifically for pregnant women. Besides, it is also a great place for socializing with other mothers-to-be, gaining emotional support and relieving prenatal stress during the 9 months period.
When sciatica begins, physical therapy is often the first port of call. Massage, chiropractics, physiotherapy and osteopathy are all popular forms of physical therapy. The aim of physical therapy is to correct spinal misalignments, remove pressure on the sciatic nerve by vertebrae as well as easing muscle tension that may contribute to nerve pain and discomfort.
In chronic cases of sciatic nerve pain especially during pregnancy, you may have to visit your physical therapist regularly. Quite often, one single treatment is not enough to correct the problem and create long-lasting pain relief. It is possible that as pregnancy progress, pressure on the sciatic nerve and back will increase, making the consistent effort to attend physical therapy even more important.
At least one clinical trial involving over 130 sciatica patients found that those who attended physical therapy had more lasting improvement in their symptoms over a 12-month period, compared to those who just went to their general practitioner for prescriptions of pain killers. Physical therapy and manipulation may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A combination of bi-weekly osteopathy and massage can be a gentle and stress-reducing regimen which you can look forward to.
Using herbal medicine during pregnancy is something that should always be approached with caution. Even after thousands years of use, we are still only beginning to understand the common herbal remedies which can effect women and babies during pregnancy and lactation. Having said that, there are some botanical medicines which have shown to be effective in treating sciatica and may be safe for use during pregnancy.
Gotu kola, a traditional Indian herb used for connective tissue damage and nervous system support, helps to restore nerve function and reduce nerve pain. At least one study by the Oregon Health & Science University in 2005 confirms these folk uses of gotu kola, as their research revealed extracts of gotu kola stimulated increased regeneration of damaged nerves. Gotu kola is safe to use during pregnancy, as it is also an edible green and nutritious food, with no reports of harmful effects during pregnancy or lactation.
Another herbal option is St John’s Wort — the most commonly recommended herbal medicine for neuropathy and sciatica. Well known for its anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, St John’s Wort is also safe to use externally for wounds, inflammation and nerve pain. One article published in “The Journal of Dietary Supplements” suggests that St John’s Wort may help symptoms of sciatica by reducing inflammation. Though its internal use is often discourage for pregnancy women, it can still be used as an oil, liniment or ointment to rub into the lower back, legs and feet.
Probably you may not like the idea of having your body covered in needles. However, if you are suffering from sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy, a bit of acupuncture might be a godsend. Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice from China that has gained much attention from medical researchers in recent years.
While the ideas behind acupuncture are rooted in traditional chinese medicine, involving complex theories about an energy called “Chi” that flows throughout the body, it is now a well known fact that acupuncture is a highly effective treatment for reducing pain, headaches, muscle tension, nerve pain and sciatica.
In a clinical trial published in “The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine” in 2009, over 90 patients suffering from sciatica took part in a controlled study. One group of patients were administered with acupuncture, another group was given an injection of Anisodamine, and the last group were given painkilling tablets.
Of all the 3 groups, those treated with acupuncture had the greatest symptomatic relief from their sciatica. This study confirms the findings of earlier smaller studies which all showed acupuncture was significantly more effect than placebo in treating sciatica. For a drug-free, safe treatment option to use during pregnancy, acupuncture is fantastic. Seek out a practitioner who has had several years of training and clinical experience, possibly one who has a history of treating pregnant women.
Magnesium is an important mineral for pregnant women especially for those who are suffering from sciatic pain. It is most commonly found in nuts, seeds and fish, but yet highly deficient in today’s modern diet. Women who are not getting their daily magnesium are more prone to muscle tension, cramps, nerve problems, stress, anxiety and insomnia.
Francesca Naish, naturopath and author of The Natural Way To A Better Pregnancy, even recommends magnesium as a possible support for nausea during pregnancy. As such, it you are suffering from sciatic nerve pain, magnesium supplementation becomes a crucial prevention factor. High levels of magnesium are known to help release tight muscles, ease nerve pain and support relaxation.
In a study funded by The Taichung Veterans General Hospital of Taiwan in June, 2011, researchers found that magnesium even enhanced the healing of damaged sciatic nerves in animals. To increase your daily magnesium, consume lots of almonds, cashews, chia seeds, sesame seeds, tuna, mackerel, herring and whole grains.
If you are going for nutritional supplements, look for the correct and good quality magnesium supplement. Some magnesium supplements, such as magnesium oxide can cause loose bowel motions. It is strongly recommended to opt for a well-absorbed form of magnesium supplement such as magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate.
Homeopathy does not work or does it? The whipping child of the alternative medicine world, doctors and sceptics will line up to tell you that homeopathy is all placebo effect. But because of the ongoing popularity of the healing modality, originally founded by Dr Samuel Hahnemann during the late 18th and early 19th century in Germany, researchers around the world have continued to explore the claims that homeopathy might just do what it claims to do.
Urmia University in Iran funded an animal study in 2012 to test the effects of the homeopathic remedy, Hypericum on sciatic nerve damage. Some rats with damaged sciatic nerves were treated with Hypericum while others were treated with placebo. By the end of the trial, researchers and statisticians confirmed that the homeopathic remedy was significantly more effective than placebo.Though this was simply an animal study, it confirms the traditional and popular use of Hypericum as a cure for nerve pain, anxiety, sciatica and neuropathy.
Homeopathy is an inexpensive, safe way of reducing sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy and does not produce any harmful or discomforting side effects. If you are interesting in trying Hypericum, it is widely available in stores and pharmacies. However, you should consult a registered homeopath with regards on the recommended dosage for you and your symptoms.
The above remedy options serve as reference purposes and do not intend to replace any medical advice from your doctor. As such, you are encouraged to consult your doctor on how to manage sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy according to your unique condition.