Mon09152014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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