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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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