Sciatica is a neurological condition that is caused by the impingement of the sciatic nerve. Although sciatica is usually temporary and self-limiting, it can cause excruciating, protracted pain. Women who are pregnant sometimes experience sciatic nerve pain as the result of the gravid uterus exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Symptoms of sciatica include pain in the lower back and buttock area, which often radiates down the back of the leg. Other symptoms may include tingling, numbness and a burning sensation, and symptoms can occasionally be mistaken for those of a herniated lumbar disc.
Treatment for sciatica in the pregnant patient depends on her general state of health. If, for example the patient has a condition known as pre-eclampsia, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, may be contraindicated. Pre-eclampsia can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure, and can be accompanied by protein in urine. NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, although very effective in the treatment of sciatic nerve pain, can cause the blood pressure to rise. NSAIDS may also be contraindicated in those with decreased renal function.
Supportive measures such as alternating ice and heat to the affected area, as well as chiropractic care can dramatically relieve symptoms holistically. In addition, integrating massage with chiropractic adjustments further enhance the healing process, while relieving stress and muscle tension in the patient. A diagnosis of sciatica in the pregnant patient is often achieved through a comprehensive physical examination and the patient’s oral medical history. The pain from sciatica can be intrusive and debilitating, however, it is important for the patient to know that her symptoms will likely resolve after delivery.
Additional treatments after delivery sometimes include physical therapy sessions, additional chiropractic intervention, pharmacological intervention and weight management. When the pain from sciatica interferes with a patient’s activities of daily living, rest is often included in the treatment protocol, as physical therapy exercises can sometimes exacerbate an a cute episode of sciatic nerve pain.
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