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According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 80 percent of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. And, if you’ve experienced it, then you know that you are desperate to fix it when it happens. We also want to know why it’s happening and how to stop it.

One of the more common (and painful) conditions that you can experience is called sciatica. And it can feel like it comes out of nowhere and hits you like a bolt of lightning.

The location of your sciatic nerve is what indicates the painful symptoms. Your sciatic nerve branches off each side of your spine and runs down each leg. It supplies sensation to the backs of your thighs, parts of your lower legs and the soles of your feet. If anything compresses your sciatic nerve, it can’t do what it’s supposed to and that’s when you experience those symptoms.

The easiest way to distinguish sciatica from other types of pain is that sciatica generally causes discomfort extending from your lower back, through your butt and down the back of your thigh and calf. It can feel like sharp, burning pain and can possibly make your legs feel numb or tingly or weak.

While sciatica can go away on its own, if you are experiencing pain that is interfering with your ability to live your life, seek medical attention. Treatment for the condition usually starts with resting and over-the-counter pain relievers, ice or heat packs and stretching. If that doesn’t work, you may be sent to physical therapy. You may need stronger medications and/or muscle relaxants or possibly a steroid injection. If all else fails, that is when your physician may suggest surgery.

If you are living with sciatica pain and it’s not getting better, contact your doctor. It can get better.