Sciatica and Pregnancy

Updated on November 26, 2007
J.S. asks from Omaha, NE
20 answers

I am 28 weeks pregnant and have been suffering with sciatic pain for about the last 2 months. I have been doing physical therapy and recently started with a chiropractor, who is going to have me start wearing a tens machine. ( it didn't work!) My OB will not let me have anything for pain until we see how the tens machine works. (They finally prescribed darvocet which still isn't helping so there is really no point in taking it!) I feel like I am losing it! I have never been in this much chronic pain in my life! It is getting worse and worse, I can barely sleep at night and sometimes just walking is so diffucult I have to crawl. I find myself crying all the time and just want this baby to come out so it goes away! My quality of life is going down the toilet and my 2 yr old isn't getting my full attention because of it. It probably doesn't help that I work retail and have to stand most of the day. Sorry for venting, but if anyone has experienced this or has advice please help me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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So What Happened?

Well the tens machine and Darvocet are helping a little(I can Walk...sort of) I still can't stand up straight and continue to have intense pain. I am doing ice and all my pt, but they are thinking it is more the si joint, the next option is a possible cortisone shot in the joint to reduce inflammation. Still going on no sleep and a basket case. Thank you all for replying and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers!

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answers from St. Cloud on

J., I went through the same thing when I was pregnant with my twins. I remember going to the IL state fair in a wheelchair. I had so much pain my 3 boys at home did the cooking and took care of me. My husband didnt do a thing. He didnt beleive the pain was so bad. Continue to do what the chiropractor says to do. That was the only releif I had along with Tylenol. Good Luck I also used ice packs and heat. P. Heder

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi J.,
I had sciatic pain in my first pregnancy. I started going to my chiropractor once a week and after my appoitment it was always better. It wasn't gone but it was much better. I don't know of anything else but know you aren't alone. Good luck. I hope it gets better.



answers from Grand Rapids on

Hey J.,

I have feel your pain. I also had sciatic nerve pain when I was pregnant with my daughter. It started around 14 weeks prego and went through the rest of my pregnancy. She is two months old now. It was horrible, my hips kept giving out and I nearly feel down the stairs multiple times. I also went to a chiropractor and they had me wear a belly belt that supported the weight of the tummy and took some pressure of the sciatic nerve. Besides that, I had to stay off my feet from around 27 weeks to the time she was born. Once that happened, the nerve pain died down. I know you said you worked retail and have a little one so it's probably pretty impossible to get off your feet.. .but, that is what helped me the most. the only pain meds that I know of that are relatively save to take during pregnancy is tylenol with codine. I would insist that your obgyn find something that is save for you to take or write you a note so you can go on medical leave. I hope you get feeling better, dear.




answers from Jackson on

When you say your OB will not "let" you have anything for pain I have to wonder if your OB is a sadist.

I suffer with SPD (basically the cartilage that holds your pelvis steady gets stretched out/torn/seperated allowing the two halves of your pelvis to get into some really funky and painful positions) so I know a bit of how uncomfortable you are.

Try tying your hips together by wrapping some fabric tighttly around them.
Massage therapy.
If the Chiropractor does not give you relief....FIND A DIFFERENT ONE.

Did you mean Tens Machine? If you aren't getting pretty much immediate relief from a Tens Machine it's unlikely that it will work for tends to me a hit or miss type device.



answers from Grand Rapids on

I had the same problem with my first pregnancy. I was on crutches and the pain was horrible. Physical therapy did not help at all. My OB sent me for acupuncture. I was somewhat skeptical but very desperate. It really helped and is very relaxing. I think I went twice a week. I felt substantial relief from the pain by my third visit. I highly recommend trying it.
Good Luck!



answers from Madison on

Have you considered massage therapy? As a LMT, I may be biased, but I have found massage to be very helpful with sciatic pain. I have a friend who suffers from sciatica, and I've done massage for her with a lot of focus on the sciatic area, and she reported a huge improvement in her pain.
A lot of massage therapists have done extra work to provide safe massage during pregnancy - and personally, I loved massage while I was pregnant with twins. I was 6 months pregnant when I graduated from massage school, so luckily I "had" to get massages every day in school. :)



answers from Milwaukee on

Have you tried essential oils??
Young living has high quality oils and I have heard of them working for sciatica.

You may be able to find a link for someone knowledgeable in your area to help you.
I know of some in the Oconomowoc area.



answers from Des Moines on

Hello J.,
I read your post and thought I would respond. My husband is a chiropractor and it sounds like you are already doing the right thing. I gather that you just started with him. My advice is to continue and to do everything he says. I am hoping he is scheduling you every day for awhile. He is adjusting you isn't he? Does he use an instrument when adjusting you or is it hands on? That is really the best way. I have had it as bad as you have it and had to lay in a recliner to get any relief. I couldn't sleep very well in it because I can't sleep on my back. My husband adjusted me 3 times a day for about 3 weeks and I finally got some relief. I can imagine how it must be to have to go to work. If there is any chance at all that you could quit early I would advise that. I asked my husband if he had anymore advice and he just told me to find out if you were putting ice on it? He says about 10 min. every hour. I hope you find relief soon. Please keep us posted on how you're doing. By the by my husband uses ultrasound on his patients he thinks it works better than Tens.



answers from Fargo on

Dear J.,
I feel for you and had some problems with sciatic pain from about 34 weeks on with my last pregnancy. Have you tried those "belly bands?" I can't remember exactly what they are called but I got mine at a maternity store in the summer of 2006 for about $40. The people at the store were extremely helpful in measuring me and getting one that fit well. It helps to support your tummy and also put pressure on your back (like a super girdle). If you get a prescription from your OB for this item, you can send in the receipt and sometimes your insurance company will reimburse you. The band/girdle didn't take away all of the pain but it did help relieve some of the pressure. Also, if you have an opportunity to attend prenatal yoga classes or purchase/borrow a prenatal yoga DVD - that did help me a bit too. Standing in the shower and letting hot water hit that part of your back also helped me. I hope that helps. Hang in there! It will all be worth it.



answers from Des Moines on

Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!!! I know that can be kind of hard to do, but just stretching out your spine can really least it did for me. I had it so bad that one day I woke up and couldn't walk...but that was just for a short while. I didn't have it during my pregnancy, but the slight pain is back now. I actually had to have surgery to fix the herniated disc that caused it when I was just 20. But, if you keep on your physical therapy and do all the exercises they give you, you should be fine! Good luck!!!



answers from Lincoln on


I have the exact same problem. It is worse with this pregnancy then with my first. My ob/gyn gave me a couple of sheets of paper that have exercises on them. They help a little especially after 20 weeks when it doesn't say to lay on your back. I won't take anything for the pain so I have to deal with it. I try to watch for things that irritate it and make it worse. When I notice something that is causing it to flare up I stop doing those things. Like I can't lay on the floor, lay on my back, stand for to long, sit on the floor, some chairs are uncomfortable, and things like that. So avoid what does cause the flare ups to be worse. Ask your ob/gyn about some easy exercises you can do while you are pregnant to help the back.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Awww, I just want to send you a ((HUG)), Im sorry your having such a painful last trimester, my heart goes out to you, I hope you find some relief, and share it with us if you do, I'm trying to get pregnant with #2 and I remember the back pain, not as severe as yours, but if I get it this time around, I'll come looking to see if you found something that works.



answers from Grand Forks on

Hi J.:
I also had this condition at one point during my pregnancy. I cant really relate to what you are experiencing because i dont think that it ever got as bad as yours. I do know that my Dr. gave me pain meds. I know that you Dr prob feels that he is doing what is in your best interest but does he know how bad things have gotten? Pain management should be one of the top priorities of health care providers and they should do all they can to aleviate it. Have you asked him his reasoning for not giving you pain meds, since it sounds like the PT isint doing any good? Maybe he doesint feel that you should be on a pain med for that amount of time and he is trying to find other methods to manage the pain? Have you looked into alternative medicine, aside from the chiropractor?
I dont know what to tell you except that if your Dr doesint take your concerns seriously then maybe you should go and get a second opinion?! Good Luck



answers from Salt Lake City on

I feel your pain- with my first the the end of my preganncy I could not walk due to my back. I did manage to stay of most pain meds-tylenol and i were good buddies though.

What i found helped was some yoga stretches, a heating pad ( ok 2 of them) and hot bathes! yes hot bathes, my OB told me it was fine and it was a little peice of heaven.

I understand working retail but I would see if you can sit with your feet out in front of you as much as possible. Dont sit with your feet dangling or in front if you can help it.

The other thing you can try, with your OB consent, is acupuncture for it. I did it after my little one was born and it helped.

When are you due in January- I too am due in January.



answers from Boise on

Sciatica can be excruciating. I get it off and on. The times when I was in the most pain, my tens unit was my savior. I would do some of my physical therepy to get the muscles warmed up so I could stretch them out. Swelling causes your hip to pinch your nerve, so... Next I would hook up my tens unit, and lay on my back on top of an ice pack with my feet up on a stack of pillows, and meditate. See if your 2 1/2 year old will meditate with you. just talk about a relaxing beautiful place and you can imagine yourselves there together. It will help take your mind off of the pain. Also, make sure you drink lots of water. It helps your body reduce swelling, and it lubricates your joints. I know it almost makes it worse when you don't think anyone realizes how bad the pain gets. Try to remember, the mind is stronger than the body, so try to work through the pain. It is the first thing you MUST do. And it will be over before you know it. Since I have learned what stretches work the best, I do them everyday, whether I am in pain or not, and the pain has not returned. You will get through this.



answers from Great Falls on

Poor you!! I went through this too, but not when I was pregnant--it actually got better when I got pregnant. But I was teaching school at the time and would lay on the floor at the front of the class to teach for a few days. I started a regimen of massage and chiropractic alternating. After a week of pretty intense sessions with the massage therapist, things got much better and she gave me stretches and relaxation things to do when I felt it start back up. I had tried chiro and other things, but the combo of massage and chiro helped immensely. I couldn't do physical therapy until the pain reduced because it seemed to make things worse. So the massage and the chiro combined first seemed the best for me. I sure hope you find some relief soon as I know it's the worst thing to go through!! Maybe delivery will seem easy for you since you've been in so much pain right now--just trying to see a bright side for you!! :)

Good luck!



answers from Boise on

I had it as bad as you with my second pregancy, and I had a all but new born to take care of, and then I got it that bad with my 4 pregnancy, all I have for you is baths, lots and lots of hot baths, I know they say not to make them to hot but that was the only thing that helped me from losing my mind. One other thing that helped was standing under a hot shower with the water on my back and bending and stretching, if you bend into the pain it works best but it can be painful at first, it did help though. I feel your pain I can still remember it like it was yeaterday. Sorry I couldn't be more help but I choose to stay away from all pain meds, partly because I was already sick and nasous(sp) through out the whole pregnacy.



answers from Denver on

I feel your pain, I had that problem during my pregnancies too! Ice worked for me. Ask your doctor if you can ice it. Then do 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. See if that helps.



answers from Kalamazoo on

Hi J.,
I had this pain also with my first pregnancy and it was so terrible I don't know if this will help but I used to do yoga type stretches and have my husband punch me in the lower back it helped me I hope something works for you it is miserable pain. Good luck to you



answers from Des Moines on


I am a physical therapist- and here are some ideas.

There is a muscle in the lower back/gluteal region that might be pinching your sciatic nerve. To stretch it, there are several ways depending on how big your belly is. For simplicity sake, lets assume it's the left side you want to stretch.

One way is in sitting. Sit close to the front edge of a chair. Keep your right foot flat on the floor. Put the outside of your left ankle on top of your right knee. Keep your lower back arched. For more stretch, place your left hand on the inside of your left knee and press your knee down towards the floor. For more stretch, keep your lower back arched while bending forward at the hips.

You can do a similar stretch in standing by using a counter that is approximately mid thigh height or maybe a little higher. Lift your left leg up and place it on the counter such that the outside of your leg from the ankle to the knee is in contact with the counter. Keep your lower back arched. For more stretch, keep the lower back arched while leaning forward at the hips.

Another way to stretch; get on all fours. Imagine you have a string hanging from your belly button and place your left knee on that place on the bed. Then, straighten your right leg, making sure it is positioned in the area between your left knee and ankle. Slide your right leg back until you feel a stretch in your left butt/hip.

If you can use a little heat on your lower back/gluteal region before you stretch, it might help you relax. Keep in mind, you might also want to consider using ice on the affected area- ice slows nerve conduction velocity and can help alleviate pain. When I got that pain, I'd have to practically freeze my butt cheek before I could go to bed at night. But use what is comfy for you.

Getting on all fours is a great position, it uses gravity to pull the baby off of the nerves in your back.

If you want to save money, physical therapists can set you up with a TENS unit as well (Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation)- then you aren't paying for both a therapist and chiropractor. Also, I would recommend that your physical therapist is either certified or has special training in women's health issues and if not, find one who is (I myself am not but one who is works in my office). If your physical therapist has not yet recommended pool therapy- ask about it and try it- I think you would get pain relief from it.

These are just some ideas and I'd be happy to answer questions about the stretches I talked about above.

Good luck and I hope you can get some relief.

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