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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Hitting a nerve: Experts weigh in on sciatica


From WEBMD.com
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back to the foot. Sciatica symptoms often include numbness and tingling in the low back and typically occur on one side of the body.

Sciatica, a condition associated with pain in the hip that may include weakness, numbness or tingling, can start in the lower back and extend down the leg to the calf, foot or even toes. Symptoms usually occur on one side of the body only.

The sciatic nerve – the longest and widest nerve in the body – runs from the low back down the leg to the foot. It’s actually a collection of nerves that begins in the spine of the low back and later branches off to other nerves in the lower leg.

Medical professionals will offer a number of different opinions regarding the true cause of the symptoms. The most common diagnosis, however, is that sciatica results from a problem with the discs or vertebrae in the lumbar spine. Alternatively, muscle tightness or spasms in the low back and hip region can create radiating symptoms that present very much like nerve pain.

Sciatica may sometimes be caused by a contracture of the piriformis, a muscle deep in the buttocks. The sciatic nerve runs just below this muscle and, in some unlucky individuals, it runs through the piriformis.

Signs of actual nerve impingement include lack of sensation to touch (numb patch), loss of muscle function and sharp, shooting pains. Nerve pain is often described as feeling “electric” in nature.

Physicians usually confirm disc problems and changes to the spine with an MRI or X-ray. They are looking for bony changes in the spine that could cause compression on the nerve root.

When sciatica is the result of a lumbar disc herniation, most cases resolve spontaneously over weeks to months.

Course of action

How should someone suffering from sciatic pain decide whether to watch and wait versus seeking medical attention? And which intervention is best? I consulted several experts in the field to solicit their opinions and advice on how to correctly diagnose and treat sciatica.

• John Welsh, M.D., pain management specialist with a practice in Los Altos. Welsh recommends the following approach for treating sciatica: “Wait three to four weeks to see if (the pain) resolves on its own. If not or it worsens, then it might be time to consult a physician.”

In the early stages, Welsh suggests conservative treatments like physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and acupuncture. However, there are cases where symptoms may be of greater concern. If there is significant weakness, buckling of the knee or foot drop, Welsh advises immediate intervention, as it may be a sign of significant nerve impingement.

• Kristen Shadduck, physical therapist, owner of PT Works in Los Altos. According to Shadduck, sciatica is often the result of “abnormal stressors on the spine from poor posture or (incorrect) body mechanics.” In her practice, she uses therapies like traction, ice and electrical stimulation to relieve sciatica symptoms. Shadduck said there’s no substitute for “skilled, hands-on care” of the tissues and joints.

“I like to instruct my patients on proper posture, how to move correctly and ways to strengthen their cores so that they can take the load off their spines and allow healing to begin,” she said.

• Charmaine Tu, chiropractor with a practice in Los Altos. In cases of sciatica, Tu favors initial techniques like ice on the low back and stretching of the hamstrings and quad muscles.

“One myth I’d like to dispel is that you have to get ‘racked and cracked’ when you see a chiropractor. That’s not the case at all,” she said.

Tu said it’s important to find the root cause of the problem first, be it tight muscles, nerve root compression or bony changes in the spine.

“I first like to evaluate the pelvis and alignment of the spine before initiating treatment,” she said, adding that getting rid of inflammation is often the first step.

Acupuncture: A combined approach

In my clinic, I use acupuncture to improve circulation in the muscles of the low back and the hip, while treating trigger points to release muscle spasm. In addition, acupuncture can often calm irritated nerves by blocking some of the pain signals emanating from the brain.

Cupping is another therapy that works well to release muscle spasms in the low back and hip region.

As with any modality, there is no single best approach. In treating sciatica, I typically encourage people to start with a doctor or therapist they trust, and go from there.

Ted Ray is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in Mountain View. For more information, call 564-9002 or visit peninsulaacupuncture.com.

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