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Pregnancy-related Sciatica advice?

Hi guys! Looking for some advice from you today. It appears that now at 26 weeks pregnant (full pregnancy update coming later this week), I’ve officially started to make my way out of the “magical” 2nd trimester phase where you mostly feel like yourself just a bit slower/more tired. A couple weeks ago I started having some pain (both a constant dull ache as well as occasional sharp pain) in my left hip/glute/lower back. I’m guessing it may be sciatica, which I know is common in pregnancy (but certainly not exclusive to pregnancy). It seems to get worse when I sit for too long – the first time I noticed the pain was when I was at an all-day workshop a few weeks ago where we sat for 7 hours for two days in a row. (Makes me so glad I have standing desk options both at home and at my co-working space!)

It’s also worse in the morning (sleeping, especially on my right side, really seems to irritate it – maybe it’s time to give the snoogle another shot…) and then in the evening if I’ve done a TON of walking throughout the day, which is normal on days I work downtown. Workouts in general don’t seem to make it worse, though – they often help loosen it up – and swimming definitely helps, so I’m headed to the pool today for a lunch break swim.

I’ve been trying to stretch more in general (although the below picture is what usually ends up happening when I try to stretch on the ground at home – ha!), but I’d love any thoughts you guys have as to specific stretches that might help, or other ideas (accupuncture? chiropractors?) that might be useful here. It’s manageable for now, but I’ve still got quite aways to go and I’m sure it will continue to get worse if I don’t do anything!

trying to stretch with a puppy

Thanks in advance for your help!

I’ll leave you with a photo of yesterday’s lunch (from Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont) – aren’t mix and match plates the best? I love all the different flavors and tastes! Those juicy summer tomatoes in particular were absolutely incredible – nothing like in-season tomatoes. I forget how good they can be!

glens garden market dupont

Time to hop on the phone with a couple AnneTheRD nutrition clients. Until tomorrow, my friends!

Comments

  1. 1

    I had really bad sciatic pain when I was pregnant with my daughter- I found not sitting for long periods of time helped and lots of stretching, particularly pigeon and runner’s stretch.

  2. 3

    I’ve had issues with non-pregnancy sciatica. Dry needling helped reactivate my glutes to better protect my external rotators, active release technique helped release the knots clamping down on my sciatic nerve, and some targeted PT exercises helped me strengthen and balance myself. So, I guess go see a PT who can do dry needling and ART. Good luck! It’s really painful (as you obviously know).

  3. 5

    If I remember correctly, PB Fingers had this same issue too – I’d reach out to her! Hope you feel better!

    http://www.pbfingers.com/pbf-baby-32-weeks/

  4. 7

    Oh Anne…I had that with the twins! It’s horrible. Prenatal yoga really helped (But I had to keep up with it daily for it to make a difference). Prenatal massages also helped. I didn’t try a prenatal chiropractor, but was told that can also help.
    Good Luck!! – Jen

    • 8

      Thank you Jen! Prenatal massages are awesome right now… I get one monthly and wish I could go more often!

      • 9

        I had sciatica with twins as well. I went to physical therapy and they figured out that the way the babies were positioned, they were making my frame shift to one side…which in turn made one leg shorter than the other. They made an wedge heel insert for one of my shoes and it fixed my pain almost immediately!

  5. 11

    Sounds like maybe your sacroillaic joint? Like where the back of your pelvis meets your tailbone? I had it on my right side while pregnant. I have very little advice, I never found much relief at all. Many people suggested a chiropractor but I didn’t really find that it helped. It did go away shortly after I gave birth.
    Good luck!

    • 12

      Yeah, that sounds about right. I’m sorry you had a similar situation! That’s good to know it will go away after giving birth though at least… if nothing else I’ll remind myself this isn’t permanent. :)

      • 13

        I second that it might not be sciatica but sacroilliac joint disfunction with sciatica like pain. I also got it at 24 weeks with my daughter. Unfortunately it didn’t completely go away after pregnancy. The majority of pregnancy related SI issues are caused by hypermobility in the SI from the relaxin. I ended up the other way with hypomobility and a “stuck” joint and pain that runs down the back of my right thigh. I highly suggest seeing a PT. I didn’t find a chiropractor helpful but that’s just me.

        Also, pigeon, double pigeon, side angle pose + triangle pose (both with the affected side/leg in front), figure four while sitting are all great poses for SI pain, in addition to bridge (about 30 a day) and laying on your back for a minute, bending knees with feet on the floor and simply dropping the knees to the opposite side of the pain. This is getting so long, sorry, but my other recommendation is to be really, really mindful of how you hold your baby once she’s born. I held mine on the right side for the most part and jutting my hip out for months also really aggravated it. Fingers crossed yours is exclusive to pregnancy. Feel free to reach out with any other questions if you have them, I’ve been struggling with this for a couple years now and it’s SO frustrating.

  6. 14

    Hi Anne! Chiropractor really helped me with my pregnancy sciatica as well as prenatal yoga. Prenatal yoga classes were limited in my area, so I went to YouTube and found SarahBeth Yoga had a great series of pre and post natal videos. Good luck and congrats!

  7. 16

    I had horrible back pain in pregnancy. I also exclusively pumped after for 11 months and my back was JACKED up. I’ve been going to a chiropractor for a few months now and it has made a HUGE difference! I wish I had started when I was pregnant. I had sciatica but dealt with it, so no good advice. But I totally do recommend a chiropractor. I was so skeptical about them but my results have been amazing. All that weight in the front and then leaning over to pump was so hard on me.

  8. 17

    Hi Anne! I struggled with this in my first pregnancy, too! I found that yoga helped some. Also, using a foam roller on the particular spot/area seemed to ease some of the tightness. A tennis ball was also helpful. I would sit directly on it and use it to release the tension in that area. I’m no expert though, I just know what helped me. My favorite online Yogi, Yoga with Adrienne has a special video specifically for sciatica pain. Hope that helps. –Lindsey

  9. 19

    I had it for about a month when I was pregnant. I think 24-28 weeks along and it cleared up on it’s own. I couldn’t run during that time and was in a lot of pain. The dr said there wasn’t much I could to and advised icing which helped some. Hope it clears up soon, it is a pain!

  10. 21

    I experienced low back/hip pain with my second pregnancy and noticed it especially on days when I did a lot of walking. I found that rocking/bouncing on a stability ball would help to open my hips and provide some relief. Hope you’re able to find something that works for you!

  11. 22

    Ugh I had this pretty bad for two weeks and then on and off again this pregnancy. I found a heating pad helped and Tylenol when it got real bad. As everyone else mentioned the stretches also really helped- do them every day! And massage targeted at the low back to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve helped me too! So sorry you’re having to deal with it. I fell asleep sitting up for many nights because I couldn’t get comfortable until my back muscles relaxed AFTER falling asleep!!

  12. 24

    Definitely see a chiropractor! It made such a difference for me. I will warn that it got worse before it got better. I started going 3x a week, and after the first week, my pain was worse, but after the second week, it disappeared!

    I also found prenatal yoga helped. I know you felt that regular yoga classes with modifications were more your speed, but in my prenatal class, the instructor queried everyone on what was bothering them that week, and focused on those areas in each class. I was never the only one with sciatica pain. If you can find a prenatal class that customizes the class to the participants, I highly recommend it.

    • 25

      That’s a good tip about finding a prenatal yoga class that customizes to the participants! I’m starting prenatal pilates soon too (I signed up for a workshop series) so I’ll ask about it in there, too.

  13. 26
    Lauren tiede says

    A few specific poses in prenatal yoga each week really helped. I forget which ones of course. But if you go to yoga (which I highly recommend – I swear
    By it for myself), tell your instructor that you’re having some pain and he or she can work the poses into the practice.

  14. 27

    The chiropractor has really helped me! Look for someone who specializes in women and children. I didn’t go with my first and had lots of pain during and after as well as a super intense labor. I went with my second and third and it helped tremendously. I also noticed a difference during labor.

  15. 28

    Another vote for the chiro! I see mine twice a week. You want one that is Webster Technique certified!

    Sitting on a birth/yoga ball may also help you. I do lots of cat/cow and bird dog yoga to relieve my back as well. I do think you should give the snoogle another shot. Idk how I’d be sleeping without it!

  16. 29
    Carol Morton says

    Physical therapy! Try to find someone who works with pregnant ladies, but sciatica is so common that that’s not a necessity.

  17. 30
    Jamie Dowd says

    Hi Anne–

    I agree with the comment about trigger point release but I would recommend going to a licensed acupuncturist and not a PT as they have minimal training with using the needles. I highly recommend Jodi Knauer who has completely changed all the pain triggers I used to carry in my hips. She is also a yoga instructor and could advise with good things to do on that front to help. Her website is: http://www.bulawellness.com/.

    Good luck!

  18. 31

    I had this with all 3 pregnancies. It’s a bummer! I found pigeon pose to be somewhat helpful, but nothing totally alleviated it. For what it’s worth, I had it every time early 3rd trimester for about 4-6 weeks and then it magically disappeared. Same for all 3 pregnancies. I don’t know if it was that as my uterus/baby grew it changed something about the pressure on the sciatic nerve or what? Anyway, there’s hope that the same could happen for you. Good luck!

  19. 32
    Jean Richardson says

    Hey Anne!

    Sorry to hear about your pain- I had some trouble with that in my pregnancy too and I know how miserable it can be. Sleeping with my snoogle at night helped me a lot, at least to sleep better. I didn’t like it at first either, but I discovered if I layed a soft pillow over the curvy part at the topand let my head kind of lay on that pillow in between the curve of the snoogle (I hope that made sense), I was soo much more comfortable. A lot of times I would have the snoogle resting behind me while I held a pillow in in front. Kind of like a cozy little nest.
    I hope you feel better soon!

  20. 33

    I have the same thing, and had it with my first pregnancy too! I find I have to do a combination of things. 1, stretch daily, some other people mentioned good stretches that help. 2, avoid too much sitting OR too much standing…I feel like too much of anything would aggravate it haha. 3, majorly cut back on lower body workouts. I don’t know why I didn’t mention this first, but this has been the best way to manage my pain, unfortunately! We went on vacation for a week and I noticed I was feeling much better, and I put 2 and 2 together. 4, sleep with something between my legs. I use the snoogle and just position it so I can use my regular pillow for my head and then put the snoogle along my back and between my legs. And 5, I see a prenatal specialist chiropractor. She helps but I’ve also gone to one who didn’t help at all. So so important to find someone who really understands the pregnant body and knows what they’re doing.

    I hope you find some relief! I remember being so frustrated when I asked my doctor about it and she said there’s nothing I could do, so I’m glad you reached out to everyone because there definitely are ways to make the pain better!

  21. 34

    I know exactly the pain you speak of. I do these stretches in bed to help provide support while getting a greater range of motion:

    #1 – Long twist
    Lay on your right side along the edge of your bed.
    While staying on your side, let your right arm hang loose over the bed, like you’re trying to reach something one the floor or under the bed.
    Allow your right leg to gently swing back.
    Let gravity help you get a nice twist, and just hang loose. I sometimes hear/feel pops and get a little lightheaded when doing this.
    You may want to grip on with your left hand for balance. Definitely do this far enough from the edge so that you don’t fall off!

    #2 Twist and flop
    Lay on your back, knees bent
    Let your knees fall to the left, you head the right. Hold.
    Straighten your right leg and swing up and over the edge of the bed (at least partially) while allowing your head to go back to center (or even left if that’s more comfortable).
    Your left leg stays knee bent, trying to keep it flat against the mattress.
    My leg hits the edge of the bed somewhere in the upper/mid thigh area. I just let it hang loose and give my neck and lower back while I’m in this open position.

    #3 Upright stretch
    I’ve seen this in a yoga class, but I don’t know the name of it. I’ve always done it on my bed, and I couldn’t do it on the floor! So, give it a shot if yoga is becoming too hard.
    Sit up with one leg bent under you (or in front of you) and the other stretched out behind.
    I find this most comfortable if my back foot is allowed to hang of the end of the bed, and I’m close enough to the edge on the bent leg side to hold on for balance.
    If it feels good, I’ll bend forward while holding this stretch.

    I also found these exercises really help. While lying on my left side:

    – Raise/lower my right leg
    or
    – Bend right leg at the knee and rotate it to try to touch the floor in front (use your hands for balance). Rotate back to neutral and repeat.
    or
    – Raise right leg and bend/flex at the knee, keeping leg elevated

    Lastly, I’ve been doing a 20 minute “constructive rest” session that I learned in an Alexander technique class, and it seems to have helped a lot. You can get an audio guide here: http://www.constructiverest.com/

    I hope you find some relief!

    p.s. You might want to use a body pillow between your legs when you sleep on your side.

  22. 36

    I’ve had this exact pain. The only thing that really helped was seeing a chiropractor. I recommend looking for one that does more than just adjustments, but will also do soft tissue work and stretching.

  23. 37

    I had sciatica when pregnant with my daughter and kinesiology taping helped a lot. Find a therapist who can show you how to apply them by yourself and start taping ;-) Like acupuncture, it won’t do you or baby girl any harm. It’s very common in Germany (german reader commenting :-) ), I’m not sure about the US though… All the best from far far away :-)

  24. 38

    I was going to suggest a physical therapist too. Particularly one that specializes in pregnancy-related issues. I had a different type of pain going on when I was pregnant, but my OB/GYN referred me to a PT and it helped a lot.

  25. 39

    Ugh, sciatica can be so painful, I had it bad in my second pregnancy. Stretching helped. My cousin (he is in sport medicine) had also suggested having someone press on my hip as I rotated my leg. It allows you to control where the pressure is and that helped me as well. Hope it passes quickly.

  26. 40

    Hi Anne! I’m a physical therapist and highly suggest finding a therapist near who who specializes in women’s health. Your body will be constantly changing in the coming weeks and it’ll be helpful to find someone who knows what they’re doing. Physical therapy can definitely help you out!

  27. 41

    Yes to the chiropractor!! Makes such a huge difference in relieving hip pain. I had some relief after the first adjustment but it took several to get all the kinks worked out. And try sleeping with a pillow between your knees. I had one of the big body pillows and it took some getting used to (I ended up using it upside down and it was much more comfortable) but having somewhere to prop your belly helps a lot! Getting aligned properly is supposed to help with the labor process also. I regularly saw a chiropractor from about 28 weeks on and had a smooth labor/delivery — I think the chiropractor definitely helped! And lots of yoga :)

  28. 42

    Had the same issue with all 3 of my pregnancies and still have it today :( What helped…foam pillow between the knees when laying on your side, 3″ gel/memory foam mattress topper, PT visits (chiro aggravated mine), Tiger Balm gel patches, stretches especially for the back.. hanging from a door or pull up bar, husband pulling my leg on the affected side (3 circular rotations clockwise then lean back and pull, hold for 30 seconds followed by 3 circular rotations counter clockwise, lean back and pull)….PT used to do this but husband is way cheaper :) also do not sit for longer than 1 hour. Hope you fell better!!

  29. 43

    Hi Anne!
    I am a physical therapist and treat a TON of pregnant women and also just had a baby in May. I had similar pain around the same time as you are and like someone else has said it’s likely your SI joint.
    Seeing a PT and getting some hands on care can help, many of my patients feel better after treatment. I would caution against chiropractic or a lot of manipulations, your joints are loose as they are expanding for baby and aggressive mobilizations/manipulations are contraindicated late in pregnancy.
    But what I found to be the most helpful is an SI belt (I like the Serola Belt it’s about $45 and so worth it!!!). The material is nice and soft is really adjustable. I wore mine everyday for as much of the day as possible & while sleeping to help stabilize my pelvis (which is expanding for baby) and after about 4 weeks my pain resolved on it’s own and I did not need to wear the brace any more.
    Continue to work on your core, do exercises on the stability ball and try not to cross your legs while sitting.
    I hope you’re feeling better soon and get some help! Please let me know if you have any other questions or need more tips! I’d be happy to help!!

  30. 45

    Acupuncture literally took it away in two sessions. Also glute massage!!

  31. 46

    I had something similar with my second pregnancy around 20 weeks. My chiropractor helped a ton and gave me hip opening stretches to focus on as well (in addition to adjusting me). She also recommended spanx (they actually have maternity!) which sounds funny but felt amazing for my lower back to feel so supported and ‘pulled together.’. I also did a heating pad when it was bothering me. I was able to get over the discomfort and back to running in about 3 weeks and it never recurred. Good luck!

  32. 48

    Hi Anne- I’m also a physical therapist and I second the recommendations above, especially the ones suggesting finding a PT in your area also specializing in women’s health! From the symptoms you described, its likely a combination of hypermobile joints (including the SIJ) as your body produces more relaxin, in addition to possible compression of your sciatic nerve as it passes under the piriformis muscle. The piriformis can be irritated with prolonged stretch (like what you described lying down on your side) and can also compress the sciatic nerve more with sitting. A gentle piriformis stretch might help ease the pain in addition to hip external rotator strengthening exercises. Sometimes sitting on an ice pack also helps!
    If still no relief you could also try a SIJ belt for more stability and less pain over the rest of your pregnancy and early postpartum weeks!

    • 49

      Thank you Claire! I think that’s what was really irritating it when I was sleeping on my right side, because I’d have the top leg kind of up and titled down, if that makes sense, since my pillow wasn’t thick enough.

  33. 50
    TrackBuddy says

    Ugh, I didn’t have sciatica but did have really bad back issues during the first pregnancy. Chiropractor helped incredibly. Lots of good recommendations here already but let me know if you need the name of a local chiropractor.

  34. 51

    I saw a prenatal chiropractor weekly during my pregnancy and it was AMAZING! I highly recommend finding one. I also did yoga 2-3 times a week. Also, I was told sleeping on your left side is best during pregnancy. It’s supposed to be better for your blood flow and also helps the baby be in an ideal position for delivery.

    • 52

      Yeah, I’ve been trying to do left side mostly… I feel like I get a bit numb/sore though just staying on the one side all night!

  35. 53
    Teresa Eskew says

    I agree with the Physical Therapist recommendations.
    The only thing that has helped are flute targeting strength excercises.

  36. 54

    I had the same issue during my pregnancy two years ago (in addition to previous spinal issues), and cannot recommend Core Wellness & PT in Del Ray more highly – they are miracle workers! They focus on women’s health therapies, particularly pre- and post-natal. I highly recommend scheduling with Jolene or Elizabeth (the owner) – and then going to prenatal yoga or pilates next door at Mind the Mat!

    http://alexandriaphysicaltherapist.com/

    Hope you can get some relief soon!

  37. 56

    I also had a lot of hip pain/tightness that made it hard to sleep starting around the same time. Yoga helped a little, but I started foam rolling every night before bed, and it helped a lot! I kept it up through the third trimester. Definitely worth a try!

  38. 58

    I also got this when I was pregnant with my son, especially after going for a run or walking a lot. I saw a chiropractor and it helped immensely. Seeing him also helped get the baby well-positioned and also postpartum when I was really stiff and sore. Highly recommend Dr. Andrino in Arlington.

  39. 60

    Oh the third trimester… also known as the last 8 miles of a marathon when EVERYTHING starts going down. ;) I’ve found my recipe development & photography days are definitely the biggest triggers for sciatica. Lacrosse ball massages to the hip and glute area help immensely. If the hubs isn’t around to do it, I’ll get on the ground and roll around on it for a few minutes, pausing on the most tense areas to help the muscle release. Definitely give it a try – it gives me relief almost immediately! In fact, I did it last night and feel almost good as new this morning. <3 XOXO

Trackbacks

  1. […] guys! Thank you so much for all the tips and advice regarding yesterday’s post about the hip/lower back/glute pain I’ve been having lately related to pregnancy. I appreciate the advice, and I just made an appointment for an assessment next week with a local […]

  2. […] did a nice and casual pace; about 4 miles round trip I think. I was happy my lower back/hip weren’t hurting at all – yay! It’s hurting again today though… boo. Trying to rock my standing desk most of the […]

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