Traditional osteopathy in Barcelona

Sciatica in pregnancy

Sciatica in pregnancy is, unfortunately, a very common problem. fairly common problem.

The osteopathy offers great relief in cases of acute, dull and even chronic pain.

Sciatica pregnancy how long does it last

How can osteopathy help with sciatica in pregnancy?

It is often a false sciaticawhere the piriformis muscle is compressed due to previous imbalances. With changes in posture, sciatica appears. The main advice is avoid crossing your legs from the third month of pregnancy to prevent this problem.

Through manipulations very gentle and painlessprofessional osteopaths such as Marina y Nicolas can release the structures under tension, be they muscles, ligaments, organs or joints. Even if the pregnant woman cannot lie on her back or side, the osteopath can work even in a sitting position if the pain is severe. It is crucial to gradually release the structures of the pelvis involved and rebalance without altering the postural compensations inherent to pregnancy.

Therefore, No rough handling and no altering the posture especially! There is no undoing what the body has set up to protect itself.

That is why we encourage pregnant women to seek care as early as the first trimesteras the sciatica is best managed preventively.

It is essential to release all structures connected closely or distantly to the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body, early in pregnancy to prevent the muscles from stiffening during the last weeks and one joint from "locking up" to protect another area.

The weight of the baby is immovable. It is important to understand that sciatica treated late in pregnancy may not always improve completely. It can be alleviated, made less severe, but if treated too late, it cannot disappear completely, as it only compensates for the enormous changes the body undergoes.

sciatica first weeks of pregnancy
sciatica in pregnancy low

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is characterised by a stabbing pain which originates in the lower back and can be extended by the legfollowing the course of the sciatic nerve. This pain results from pressure or irritation nerve damage, and during pregnancy, is often caused by a combination of factors such as weight gain, changes in posture, and pressure from the expanding uterus.

Sciatica is not a medical condition on its own, but a symptom of another problem, usually related to the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the longest nerve in the body, starting in the lower back, running down the buttocks and extending to the legs and feet.

In general, pregnant women have a high false sciatica which is a consequence of the tight piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve.

When does sciatica start in pregnancy?

Sciatica in pregnancy may start at different times, but it is more common during the second and third trimester. This is due to several factors related to the physical and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.

Second quarter

As the uterus grows to accommodate the developing baby, it can begin to put pressure on the sciatic nerve in some women. This nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of the legs to the feet. Pressure on this nerve can cause pain, tingling or numbness, which are the most common symptoms. characteristic symptoms of sciatica.

Third trimester

During the third trimester, weight gain and the change in a woman's centre of gravity can exacerbate pressure on the sciatic nerve. In addition, as the baby positions itself for birth, its head may press directly on the nerve, increasing the risk of experiencing symptoms of sciatica.

Contributing factors

Several factors may contribute to the onset of sciatica during pregnancyincluding:

  • History of sciatica or back painwomen who have experienced sciatica prior to pregnancy or who have a history of sciatica back pain may have an increased risk of developing sciatica during pregnancy.
  • Hormonal changes During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin, which helps relax the ligaments in the pelvis and prepares the body for childbirth. However, this relaxation can also cause instability in the spine and increase pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Weight gainnatural weight gain during pregnancy can put additional pressure on the spine and surrounding nerves.

It is important to note that every pregnancy is unique, and not all women will experience sciatica. If you begin to feel symptoms of sciatica, such as pain radiating from your lower back down one leg.


For a proper diagnosis and a better understanding of the symptoms, it is advisable to consult with a health professional.
It is essential to not to self-diagnose ni self-treatSome symptoms may be indicative of other conditions that require medical attention. Therefore, at the first sign of sciatic pain or if symptoms worsen, it is important to seek specialist advice.

What is false sciatica?

The "false sciatica"Piriformis syndrome, also known as piriformis syndrome, is a condition that mimics the symptoms of traditional sciatica, but has a different cause.

Whereas true sciatica involves the compression or sciatic nerve irritation itself, usually due to spinal problems such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis, false sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle in the gluteal region.


The main characteristics of false sciatica are:

  • Location of painpain is mainly centred deep in the buttocks and may radiate to the back of the thigh, but rarely extends below the knee, unlike true sciatica.
  • CauseThe main cause is irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle, which can become inflamed or spasm due to injury, overuse or prolonged inactivity.
  • SymptomsSymptoms may include pain, tingling or numbness in the buttocks, which may extend into the thigh. The pain may be aggravated by sitting for long periods, getting up after sitting, or physical activity.


Treatment of false sciatica focuses on relieving compression of the sciatic nerve and may include:

  • Osteopathy sessionsRebalancing the body and releasing tensions that cause pelvic imbalance and tension in the piriformis muscle.
  • Stretching and strengthening exercisesspecific for the piriformis muscle and the pelvic region.
  • Physiotherapy techniquesThe following treatments are available: massage, manual therapy, and heat or cold applications to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Changes in activityAvoid activities that aggravate symptoms and adopt postures that minimise pressure on the piriformis muscle.
  • ¡Do not cross your legs sitting from the second trimester onwards!

It is important to distinguish between true sciatica and false sciatica, as their treatments and prognoses can vary significantly. An accurate assessment by a healthcare professional is crucial for a correct diagnosis and the implementation of appropriate treatment.

Which leg is affected by the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is the longest and one of the most important nerves in the human body, extending from the underside of the backthrough the buttocksand down the backside of each leg. Because of its course, sciatica can affect either the left or the right leg, although symptoms usually occur in one leg. only one side of the body.

Factors determining the affected leg

Which leg is affected by sciatica depends on where the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve originates.

For example:

  • Compression on the right side: if the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated at its right root, symptoms are likely to manifest in the right leg.
  • Compression on the left side: similarly, if the compression or irritation occurs on the left side, the left leg will be affected.
spine diagram sciatica pregnancy how long does it last?

Identification and symptoms of sciatica in pregnancy

Sciatica during pregnancy can often be confused with other common pregnancy pains, but there are specific signs to help identify it:

Acute pain
or sharp

This pain may radiate from the lower back into one or both legs.

Tingling sensation or numbness

It is commonly felt in the legs or feet and may be accompanied by muscle weakness.

Intensity v

Such as mild scoliosis or gait problems.

Prevent the onset and reduce the symptoms of sciatica during pregnancy.

Although some women may be tempted to limit their physical activity because of the pain, staying active is essential. Specific exercises, appropriate prenatal care and pain management techniques, such as the use of heat or cold and complementary therapies, can offer significant relief and improve quality of life during pregnancy.

It is vital for mothers-to-be recognise the symptoms and seek professional advice to treat sciatica effectively.

There are measures that can help prevent sciatica or keep it under control:

  • Physical exerciseActivities such as walking, swimming and specific exercises can strengthen muscles and reduce the risk of pain.
  • Postural hygiene: maintaining correct sitting and standing posture is crucial.
  • Weight controlIt is important not to exceed the recommended weight gain to avoid additional pressure on the back and legs.

Treatments and remedies for sciatica in pregnancy

The treatment of sciatica during pregnancy involves several approaches, ranging from specific exercises to adopting habits that help relieve and manage pain. Here are some key recommendations based on various authoritative sources:


  • Healthy and balanced dietMaintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is crucial to minimise the risk of developing sciatica.
  • Appropriate footwearwearing shoes with a moderate heel height, ideally between 3-5 cm, can prevent sciatica pain.
  • Pillow between the legs when sleepingsleeping on the left side with a pillow between the legs helps to keep the spine straight and relieves sciatic pain.
  • Dry heatApplying dry heat to the affected area several times a day can soothe sciatica pain.
  • MassagesGentle massage can be very effective in relieving tension and pain in the lower back and sciatica.
  • Maternity clothes with supportWearing maternity clothes or belts that offer support can relieve pressure on the lower back.
  • Maintain moderate exerciseActivities such as swimming, which reduces the impact on the joints, or yoga, which includes relaxation techniques, are very beneficial. Gentle walking is also recommended if pain permits.

In terms of specific exercises, there are movements that can help relieve sciatica, such as the cat-dog yoga stretch, pyramidal muscle stretches, and fitball or tennis ball massages to stimulate and relax the affected muscles.

a woman without sciatica pregnancy

Particular cases

In the context of pregnancy, the sciatica can manifest itself uniquely in each individual, requiring specific approaches to its management. Some situations stand out because of their particularities:

Severe pain

If the pain is severe and limits your daily activities.

Persistent pain

It is commonly felt in the legs or feet and may be accompanied by muscle weakness.

Alarming symptoms

Such as mild scoliosis or gait problems.

How to relieve sciatic nerve pain fast?

Professional consultation

If pain is severe or persistent, consult a healthcare professional. An osteopath or physiotherapist can provide specific relief techniques and a personalised exercise programme. In some cases, further evaluation may be necessary to determine the underlying cause of the pain and the most appropriate treatment.


Performing gentle stretches can relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. One useful stretch is the piriformis stretch, which involves lying on your back, bending your knees and crossing one leg over the other to gently pull it towards the opposite chest.

Apply heat or cold

Applying a warm compress or ice pack to the affected area can provide immediate relief. Heat helps to relax tense muscles, while cold reduces inflammation and pain. Start with 15-20 minute applications and assess your response.

Maintain good posture

Proper posture, especially when sitting, can prevent further compression of the sciatic nerve. Use chairs with lumbar support and avoid prolonged sitting.

Smooth movement

Although the pain may make you want to lie still, gentle movement can help reduce inflammation and pain. Walk at a comfortable pace or do low-impact activities such as swimming or riding a stationary bike.


Gentle massage of the lower back and legs can help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation in the area affected by sciatica.

Remember that while some of these techniques may offer quick relief, it is crucial to address the underlying cause of sciatic pain for long-term solutions.

Always seek advice from health professionals to ensure that the approach you choose is safe and effective for your particular situation.

How long does sciatica last in pregnancy?

The duration of sciatica during pregnancy can vary considerably from person to person and depends on several factors, including the underlying cause of the pain, the management of the pain and the physical changes that continue to occur during pregnancy.

Factors influencing duration

  1. Cause of pain: sciatica in pregnancy often results from direct pressure on the sciatic nerve, from the growing uterus or from the position of the baby. As pregnancy progresses and the weight of the baby increases, this pain may intensify or become prolonged.
  2. Pain managementThe effectiveness of the strategies employed to manage pain can significantly influence the duration of sciatica. Self-care measures, such as moderate exercise, the use of heat or cold and specific stretches, can offer considerable relief and reduce the duration of symptoms.
  3. Body changes: hormonal changes during pregnancy, particularly the increased production of the hormone relaxin, which helps prepare the body for childbirth, can also loosen the joints and ligaments around the pelvis, increasing the likelihood of experiencing sciatica.

Long-term management

While sciatica can be a challenging part of pregnancy for some women, there are numerous strategies and resources available to manage the pain:

  • Regular consultations: maintain constant communication with your health care provider to monitor your situation and adjust management strategies as needed.
  • Exercise and stretchingcontinue with a gentle exercise routine approved by your doctor, focusing on strengthening the back muscles and improving flexibility.


Remember that every pregnancy is unique and what works for one person may not be right for another. Listening to your body and seeking professional guidance is key to navigating this challenge and finding relief.

Typical duration:

Sciatica can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but is most common in the second and third trimester. The duration can vary from a few weeks to several months. In most cases, sciatica pain resolves after delivery, once the pressure on the sciatic nerve decreases and the hormonal and physical changes of pregnancy reverse.