Don’t Always Blame the Baby for Sciatica Pain!

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During your pregnancy, everything may seem like it revolves around your baby–even your aches and pains. For whom are you buying the crib? The baby. Why are you eating healthier? For the baby. Why do you have morning sickness? You are carrying a baby. But sometimes a medical condition you have takes center stage during your pregnancy. Although your baby is also most likely the cause of your sciatica, not all the causes of sciatica are baby-centered–even during pregnancy. So in your search for what causes sciatica pain during pregnancy, do not be so quick to blame your baby. A pre-existing medical condition may be causing your pregnancy pains.

What Causes Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy? Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Degenerative disc disease, bone  spurs, spinal tumor, and piriformis syndrome–what do all of these medical conditions have in common? They can be the cause of your sciatica pregnancy.

The medical conditions can be grouped into four general categories:

  1.  Disc Problems
  2.  Muscle or Bone Injury
  3.  Diseases that Affect the Spine
  4.  Other (i.e., trauma, obesity, diabetes)

See the “Risk Factor” section for a complete list and more in-depth explanation of these and other risk factors for sciatica during pregnancy.

 What Role Does Pregnancy Play?

When a pre-existing medical condition is the main cause of sciatica, your baby is not entirely off the hook. There is a reason why your sciatica symptoms, even when caused by an unrelated medical condition, pop up when you are pregnant: pregnancy tends to trigger or worsen the sciatica symptoms of a pre-existing medical condition.

Because some medical conditions do not rear their ugly heads immediately (i.e. they are asymptomatic in their beginning stages), you may not be aware that you have a medical issue that will interfere with your pregnancy before you become pregnant. However, the pressures, stresses and changes that a pregnant body undergoes may trigger or worsen the sciatica symptoms of a pre-existing medical condition. In this case, pregnancy’s role–the baby’s weight, size and position in the womb–is just to set off and fuel sciatica symptoms–not to cause.

How is it Different from if my Baby was the Main Cause of my Sciatica?

The type of sciatica symptoms you experience during the pregnancy may be different. Because the pressure of your baby’s weight and position on your sciatic nerve is now coupled with your pre-existing medical condition, you may experience pain that is more constant and severe.

Another piece of advice: you will have less success with a “waiting out the sciatica symptoms” approach if they are caused by a pre-existing medical condition. Although birth usually relieves the sciatic nerve pressure caused by the baby, your medical condition–and therefore your pain–is not as pregnancy-related and will therefore probably not be solved when the baby is born. What does this mean? Don’t play chicken with your sciatica symptoms; they will not back down first. If you suspect they may be caused by a pre-existing medical condition, confront them by going to a doctor.

Take Preventative Steps: Know Your Medical History  

You want to know if you are at risk for sciatica pain during pregnancy due to a medical condition you already have. Even if you get used to prioritizing the baby when you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, take some time to reflect on you–especially on your medical history. In order to prepare yourself and/or deal with any medical conditions you have before become pregnant, you need to know about it. Taking the time to see if any of these conditions run in your family may spare you sciatica pain.

The next time your are questioning what causes sciatica pain during pregnancy, take some self-reflecting time. Although it may be difficult to put yourself first in the pregnancy, take comfort in the fact that another way to prioritize the baby is to take care of yourself–and that means getting any potential pre-existing medical conditions that could cause or are causing your sciatica checked out.


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