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Shooting leg pain in pregnancy

Lower back ache and shooting leg pain in pregnancy is no fun, but what can you do about sciatica?

Posted: 27 November 2007
by Laura Lee Davies

During pregnancy, there are many aches and pains you usually have to just put up with, though there are some things you can to try in order to beat pregnancy back pain, or beat pregnancy leg cramps.
Additionally, it is important to be aware of swollen ankles if they are a recurrent problem for you, as oedema can be a sign of other pregnancy problems which your doctor or midwife should be told about.
However, shooting pains, rather than dull aches, can be particularly unpleasant when you are expecting.

What is sciatica?
Sciatica is the name given to the overall symptoms of lower back ache, pain or numbness running down the back (buttock) and into the leg. It can feel like a shooting pain, or like a nagging discomfort gnawing at your hip and leg area, that you wish you could shake off.
The main nerve going down into your leg is the sciatic nerve. Pain manifesting itself here might be caused by pressure on the nerve, or by tissue damage around the joint in this part of the body.
Th pressure put on your hips, lower back and your feet and legs as your bump grows, may cause you to adjust your posture when sitting, standing and/or lying, which can accumulatively stress parts of your lower body. This can bring about sciatica.

What can you do about sciatica in pregnancy?
It is not advisable to take pain killers in pregnancy, but you might find some relief in warm baths, a heated pad applied to the buttock or back, and some well-supported rest.
Try to really think about how you have adjusted your way of walking, sitting etc, especially as your bump gets big, and try to use small cushions to improvise support where your body needs it. Look at how you are sitting at work, and whether this needs to be changed now you are bigger.
If you are tossing and turning in bed, you might find that without realising it, you have been twisting your body. Read about getting comfortable in bed as sleeping in bad positions can really affect your long term posture health and comfort.
If the pain doesn't go away after a couple of days, see your GP to find out if you can get some gentle manipulation through a physiotherapist.

Other leg discomforts
Click on this article links if you want to know more about pins and needles or about restless legs syndrome.

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