Prevention is possible! But preventing sciatica can be tricky, as sciatica does not stand on its own as a medical condition; rather, it is a symptom of another medical problem. Because sciatica is usually a sign of a deeper health issue, it has a variety of underlying causes. Ideally, the best strategy for preventing sciatica during pregnancy would be to tackle these causes of sciatica–which range from a spinal nerve tumor to a shifted pelvic bone. But many pre-existing medical conditions that can lead to sciatica are not known about before pregnancy. Many instances of sciatica also result from normal pregnancy changes (e.g. the baby’s weight, the enlarging uterus) or unforeseen pregnancy mishaps (e.g. the baby taking an unfortunate position in the womb, a pinched nerve or herniated disc), making the causes difficult to target and treat.
With the over-ambitious plan to eliminate all underlying causes of sciatica sitting on the sideline, the next option is a defensive play. But how can you build up your body’s defenses against sciatica when an all-encompassing offensive attack failed? Focus on strengthening your muscles and bones. Your musculoskeletal system is a common denominator in many cases of sciatica.
Preventing Sciatica During Pregnancy: Improve Your Musculoskeletal Health
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. Piriformis syndrome and bone spurs? Muscles and spine. A pinched nerve? Joints. Herniated disc, spinal tumor, lumbar spinal stenosis? The spinal column. And the list of medical conditions and the musculoskeletal area of the body they affect goes on. The pattern we see emerge is that sciatica-causing medical conditions tend to take advantage of and compromise our musculoskeletal system.
Why? Pregnancy is a time when our bodies are thrown extra weight and stress, of which our spinal cord must learn how to balance and our muscles and bones support. Pregnancy hormones are, at the same time, challenging our body’s ability to handle this weight, as they are destabilizing and loosening ligaments to prepare for birth. But this reconfiguring makes your bones and muscles weaker, making pregnant women more susceptible to injuries or health issues that target these areas.
To build you defenses against sciatica and avoid a sciatica pregnancy, it is therefore important to build up the strength of our musculoskeletal system, especially our spinal cord. We can do this in many ways, including the ones listed below:
- Vitamin D
- Regular exercise
- Better posture
To learn more about how these defense mechanisms work to improve your spinal cord health and indirectly ward off sciatica, see the other articles in the “Prevention” section. You can also do things while you are pregnant, lifestyle changes you can make, to decrease your risk, which are discussed in the “Lifestyle Changes” section.