Sciatica and Pregnancy 

 May 23, 2013

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

pregnant-back-pain-200-300Mechanicsville Virginia Chiropractor – I have have seen quite a few pregnant women in the office lately.  For that reason I’m reposting two posts this week from the the not too distant past on related issues.

Pregnancy involves a broad range of rapid changes to a woman’s physiology, including changes that can vary widely from one woman to the next.  Sciatica is a common symptom associated with pregnancy and is caused by pressure or injury to the sciatic nerve.  The common signs of sciatica are weakness, tingling, numbness and burning pain in the legs, back and buttocks.  Personally I find chiropractic adjustments are usually very effective.  They are perfect for a pregnant mom because of the limits on pain meds that are OK for pregnancy.

However, if the sciatica does not respond quickly, the problem can be stubborn.  It becomes very important to maintain a short but regimented program to stabilize the position of Mom’s pelvis and spine.

As the fetus grows inside the mother’s womb, the uterus expands and occasionally places pressure against the sciatic nerve in the lower spinal column.  This pressure can become especially evident during the third trimester as the baby begins to shift toward the proper birthing position.  The baby can end up resting directly upon the nerve, creating significant pain.

Approximately half of all pregnant women who suffer from sciatica recover within six weeks of childbirth and almost all (90%) recover within 3 months, although there is a small percentage for whom the pain continues for much longer.  If a women has sciatica in pregnancy it is likely it will return later in life because the problem isn’t the baby.  It is the improper alignment (subluxations that are aggravated or caused by the baby) that causes the sciatica.  However, the damage is done.  When the baby is delivered the mother still has subluxations or pelvic misalignments (though the delivery of the baby removes the irritation which relieves pain), which should be corrected as soon as possible.

As stated above, due to the dangers of taking painkillers and other medication during pregnancy, physicians generally recommend not taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen.  Instead, there are a number of exercises and other options to help relieve the pain of sciatica before and after childbirth.

  • Take frequent rests and avoid spending too much time on your feet.
  • Avoid wearing heeled shoes that may jar your spine.  Soft, flat shoes may be preferable, but if they don’t help, try other types of shoes with different types of heel support.
  • Avoid lifting or carrying heavy objects, but if you absolutely have to, be sure to bend from your knees and maintain a straight back.
  • Place heat or ice packs on the location of the pain.  Use ice for the first couple of days and then heat after that.
  • Take a warm bath.  The heat will help soothe the pain and the buoyancy will take the pressure off.
  • Alternative therapy such as chiropractic care or prenatal massage (by a trained and licensed therapist) can also provide relief.
  • Low impact physical activities such as swimming and prenatal yoga can help stretch the body and readjust the baby’s position, thus taking the pressure off the nerve and reducing the pain.


If the sciatica persists during labor, then the range of positions available for delivery may be limited due to the additional pain.  If you suspect that this may become an issue for you, one alternative may be to ask the hospital or other facility to make a birthing pool available for your delivery as this will provide a warm and buoyant medium for reducing the pressure and pain.

Sciatica is generally a temporary discomfort for pregnant women, one that lasts not much longer than the pregnancy itself, and can be treated naturally without risk to the baby or mother.

We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your healthcare services. If you, a friend or family member requires care for sciatica, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

Dr. Tripp Stover

Stover Chiropractic, P.C. –  Real. Simple. Healthcare.




We are located at 9097 Atlee Station Road in Mechanicsville, Virginia, 23111.  This is a Hanover county address, but we are minutes from Glenn Allen, Innsbrook, Sandston, and Varina.  We also serve many people from King William and New Kent Counties.  Our close proximity to I295 means we are very easy to reach from anywhere in the Richmond Metro area.  Contact us: 804-559-1100

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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