BENGALURU:Pregnancy and motherhood are joys beyond compare. These much-treasured moments are anxiously awaited and cherished for life. Yet these few months spent caring for your unborn child can cause a lot of distress. Postpartum Sciatica has been one such cause of concern.
Sciatica is described as pain radiating along the course of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is one of the longest nerves in our body. It starts from the back and runs down to our feet divided into branches. Postpartum sciatica can be one of the residual effects of giving birth. While most women experience relief in back pain after childbirth, some begin to experience symptoms for the first time or suffer an escalation of pre-existing pain after delivery.
Cause of post partum sciatica
Hormonal changes - At the time of delivery, relaxin hormones are released which causes laxity of joints, ligaments, muscles, and structures which stabilise the spine especially the pelvic region. This can result in a backache because joints, muscles and other structures are not strong enough to support the spine and pelvis.
Weakened abdominal muscles - During pregnancy, the growing size of the uterus can weaken the abdominal muscles which can result in backache. Also especially after C-section the abdominal muscles get into more weaknesses and cannot provide proper support to the spine thus resulting in a backache and eventually leading to sciatica.
Bad postures - Taking bad postures especially while feeding can hamper the back immensely and lead to development of sciatica.Constant bending - As the new born child requires attention 24/7, the mothers tend to bend a lot for feeding, to play with the child, to change clothes etc. Hence, constant bending throughout the day can lead to a backache, resulting in sciatica.
Escalation of pre-existing back pain - Women who had back pain before or during pregnancy are more likely to have persistent back pain after pregnancy, particularly if their pain was severe or began relatively early in pregnancy. Being overweight increases the risk too.
Precautions for mothers with post-partum sciatica
■ Taking care of posture is an important aspect of preventing sciatica. It is important to sit erect while feeding the baby and not to sit in a slouched posture.
■ A mother should be aware and very cautious of how much to bend. A mother should bend only when necessary so as to avoid unnecessary strain on the back for some time period. Also, while picking the child from the floor it is important to bend your knees from a crouching position instead of your back to avoid excessive strain.
■ Let someone else lift heavy objects – this is not the time to risk throwing your back out and risk your back. If the mother had a c-section, then she shouldn’t be lifting anything heavier than the baby for at least eight weeks.
■ It is important to hold the child in a proper position and it is important to avoid holding the child on your hips. This might strain the back and can lead to worse effects.
■ If a woman is having a backache during pregnancy, they should be engaged in some kind of exercise regime during pregnancy and post pregnancy so as to maintain the efficiency of muscles.
■ Precisely planned soft tissue regeneration through therapeutic exercises under the guidance of a specialised spine physiotherapist is advised.
■ Taking some hot fomentation can temporarily help in the reduction of backache.
■ Pain killers are not recommended.The effects of most medication are temporary.
■ It is important to rebuild and strengthen the muscles around the spine. Spine rehabilitation with a specialised spine physiotherapist is medically proven to help mothers with post partum sciatica. It includes comprehensive symptomatic and functional restoration with the use of advanced technology.
■ Identification of the exact cause and origin of pain with a precise spine function test like DSA (Digital Spine Analysis) is important. This aids in the correction of additional load over spinal structures, spinal misalignment, dynamic pelvis instability, pelvic floor and abdominal muscle weakness and other changes that might have occurred during pregnancy.
■ For severe pain, mothers must avoid taking painkillers at all costs. Frequent specific micro-currents is a safer and more effective alternative for pain reduction and works at a cellular level to regenerate tissues.
■ Pilates are recommended after few months of delivery to improve the endurance and strength of spine muscles. Yoga, walking or basic exercises can also help to improve the efficiency of spinal muscles and can help provide relieve to your back.
– Authors are specialised spine physiotherapist, QI Spine Clinic