Pain in your back is never pleasant. And for those who experience sciatica, the pain can be sudden, unexpected, and uncomfortable.\nWhat Is Sciatica?\n\u201cSciatica is the term used to describe leg pain that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttocks and down the sciatic nerve in each leg,\u201d explains Kimberly Todaro, PT, DPT, OCS, the facility director and a physical therapist at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services\u2019\u00a0Cresson location.\n\u201cIt can also be associated with tingling, numbness, or weakness and typically affects only one side of the body.\u201d\nIt is rare that individuals younger than 20 will experience sciatic pain: It usually begins in patients in their early to mid-40s, although cases in younger patients have been reported.\nWhat Causes Sciatica?\n\u201cSciatica can result from regular wear and tear on your body, as well as any pressure placed on the discs that cushion the bones of your lower spine,\u201d Todaro said.\nMost commonly, sciatica is caused by a herniated disc. The gel-like center of the disc can sometimes protrude through or into the disc’s outer lining. This can put direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatic pain can sometimes be aggravated by prolonged sitting, manual labor, or even coughing or sneezing.\nSome causes of sciatica include but are not limited to:\n\nAnkylosing spondylitis (chronic inflammation in and around the spine)\nFracture\nInfection\nMuscle strain\nPregnancy\nScar tissue\nSpinal tumor\n\nWhat Can be Done for Sciatica?\nSciatica usually does not require treatment, as the problem will go away on its own.\nNonsurgical treatment is designed to help you manage your sciatica while maintaining a normal active lifestyle. Motion helps to reduce inflammation, so it is important to try and stay active. There are some specific at-home exercises and stretches that can be done to ease sciatic nerve pain.\nSome of these stretches include yoga poses such as “pigeon pose,” a sitting spinal stretch, and a standing hamstring stretch. But when at-home remedies are not helping, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the herniated disc. This surgery is highly successful at relieving pain, particularly if the pain is in the leg.\nRELATED:\u00a0What to Expect During Physical Therapy \nAdditional Treatments for Sciatica Can Include:\n\nAcupuncture\nChiropractic\/manual manipulation\nCognitive behavioral therapy\nMassage therapy\nPhysical therapy including low-impact aerobic exercises, strengthening exercises, and stretching exercises\n\nHow Can You Prevent Sciatica?\nTo prevent this condition, always be aware of your posture, especially when lifting heavy items. These tips can help:\n\nThink before you lift\nStart in a good position (Keep your legs slightly apart and let your legs do the lifting)\nKeep the load close to your waist\nAvoid twisting your back or leaning sideways (Your shoulders should be level and face the same direction as your hips. Turn by moving your feet, not twisting with the back\/hips)\nKeep your head up\nKnow your limits\nPush, don’t pull\nDistribute the weight evenly\n\nSciatica can be painful and uncomfortable, but in most cases, it does go away on its own. With these tips, sciatica can be a thing of the past.\nWant more from UPMC Centers for Rehab Services?\nSubscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter to hear from our therapists and patients regarding physical, occupational, and speech therapy.