Exercises for sciatica during pregnancy
While sciatica is a common degenerative spinal condition that affects millions of people over the age of 50, it can also be an annoyance for women who are experiencing pregnancy. Sciatica describes the collection of symptoms that can occur when the sciatic nerve — which travels from each side of the lower spine down to the feet — is compressed. Pregnant women are susceptible to this condition because pregnancy can put extra pressure on the spine and pelvis and increase tension in the piriformis muscles in the buttocks, among other factors. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, changes in sensation, muscle weakness in the legs and pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve through the buttocks and down the back of the legs to the feet.
Alleviating sciatica symptoms during pregnancy
Being pregnant likely eliminates some of the conservative treatment options that are commonly used for sciatica symptoms, including some pain and anti-inflammatory medications. However, with your doctor’s approval, there are several stretches that can help loosen tight muscles and potentially reduce your symptoms. Options include:
- Table stretch. Stand arm’s length away from a table with your feet spread slightly, then lean forward and place your hands on the table while keeping your back straight and arms flat. Pull your hips away from the table to stretch the legs and lower back.
- Hip flexor stretch. Kneel on the floor and alternate placing one foot on the floor in front of you and shifting your weight forward.
- Seated piriformis stretch. Sit straight up in a chair and alternate lifting one leg and placing your foot on the opposite knee. Gently lean forward to stretch the piriformis muscle.
- Knees rocking. Lie on your back with your feet off the floor and crossed while holding your knees with your hands. Gently pull your knees toward you and hold.
A foam roller can also be your friend if you are experiencing sciatica symptoms during pregnancy. Sitting on a foam roller and rolling back and forth on your glutes and hamstrings is a safe way to gently stretch the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve.
Surgical sciatica treatment
While conservative treatment methods reduce sciatica symptoms to an acceptable level for many individuals, that’s not the case for everyone. If sciatic pain is interfering with your day-to-day life and nonsurgical treatment has been ineffective, you can receive a free MRI review* at Laser Spine Institute to find out if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, which utilizes a less than 1-inch incision and requires no lengthy recovery.^
If you would like to learn more about the outpatient procedures we offer that can help treat sciatica and other degenerative spinal conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute today.