Ah, sciatica risk factors! Aren’t those just lovely? Just another thing you wanted to add to your pregnancy worry list! Although sciatica risk factors are almost as unpleasant to talk about as the sciatica itself, it is important that you learn whether your odds of having a sciatica pregnancy are greater than most. Why, oh why would you want to know ahead of time that lower back and buttocks pain is just around the corner of your pregnancy? Ignorance is bliss, is it not? Let me put it this way: if you know that you have a greater chance of experiencing sciatica before that baby is on its way, you may be able to prevent a sciatica nightmare. Stay back, sciatica!
Get your heart pumping! Try adding cardiovascular exercise to your workout schedule before and during your pregnancy. Getting that blood flowing can help you manage your weight and therefore your lower back pain. Because obesity is a big sciatica trigger, getting in shape will relieve some stress on your spine, reducing your chances of experiencing sciatica when your pregnancy pounds further burden those spinal discs of yours (boy is that spine overworked!). The takeaway here? Cardiovascular exercise can help you control your sciatica and weight–two very important, interrelated things to get a handle on when you are pregnant.
What is the main cause of sciatica? Many would venture to say pressure on the sciatic nerve. But wrap your head around this: although pressure is often thought to be the main catalyst of sciatic nerve pain (especially during pregnancy), sciatica may begin way before any kind of pressure is applied to your sciatic nerve. Does that fly in the face of most everything you’ve head? Mind. Blown.
There are many reasons for pelvic girdle pain (PGP) to pop up during your pregnancy. Surprisingly, PGP and sciatica have common symptoms, but the causes of pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy are quite different from those that trigger sciatica. During your pregnant months, your body goes through a lot of adjustments–increase of hormones, weight gain, growing belly–that help your body accommodate a baby and all the responsibilities that comes with that (labor!), but these changes can also take a toll on your joints and bones. Find out why your chances of experiencing pelvic girdle pain increase when you are pregnant!
Due to the changes in your body–both hormonal and those related to your growing baby–during this delicate time in your life, pregnancy itself is a risk factor for sciatica. However, there are a variety of other things that, when combined with pregnancy, can further increase a woman’s chances of experiencing sciatica pain when pregnant. Below is a comprehensive list of risk factors for sciatica:
Hee hee who, hee hee who. That is one of the patterned breathing exercises you were probably taught to use during labor to calm yourself down. But you might want to start practicing it–as well as other relaxation techniques–now. Here’s why: individuals with back problems, including sciatica, are five times more likely to be in psychological distress. Stress can cause sciatica when you are pregnant.
When planning your pregnancy, age is an important factor to consider. Because pregnancy itself contributes to sciatic nerve irritation (due to the temporary changes that occur in your body during this state), pregnant women of any child-bearing age (i.e. menstrual), are prone to sciatica symptoms–regardless of whether or not they just hit menarche or are close to menopause. However, middle-age women are even more likely to experience sciatica during their pregnancy. There is a connection between a woman’s age and sciatica risk.
Some things seem to go together: peanut butter and jelly, a cold winter night and a fire, a movie and popcorn. But not all combinations in life are ideal–like obesity and pain. Research suggests that obese individuals tend to experience more pain in their daily lives–especially back pain–compared to those who are fit and in shape. When you throw pregnancy into the mix, the excess weight you are carrying around could put you at risk for a sciatica pregnancy. Don’t ignore the connection between obesity and sciatica.
Have you ever heard of sciatica returning? Yes. If you had sciatica symptoms during a previous pregnancy, you may be at a greater risk of experiencing sciatica during future pregnancies. But whether or not you are predisposed for sciatica pain–and therefore likely to suffer again in your subsequent pregnancies–depends largely on what caused your sciatica in the first place.
Are you having twins and sciatica pain? If you are lucky enough to be expecting more than one baby–whether it be twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets or more–you might be unlucky enough to experience sciatica during your pregnancy. Multiple babies means more weight, more kicking legs, more space, more pressure, and therefore more risk of back pain. All of these bonuses of having more than one baby grow inside you can take a toll on the spine and lower back, making it more likely that you will encounter sciatic nerve irritation.