Mon12292014

News

Merry spirits: Traditional holiday drinks and memories that surround them

Merry spirits: Traditional holiday drinks and memories that surround them


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Town Crier columnist Christine Moore’s holiday drink menu includes her take on the Moscow Mule, the Bucking Reindeer.

Growing up, our dogs were always outside dogs. We lived in the country, which made...

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Schools

Santa Rita visits The Terraces

Santa Rita visits The Terraces


Susie Greenwald’s third-grade class at Santa Rita School has a special relationship with The Terraces at Los Altos, a senior retirement community. The class visits the center once a month to share quality time with the residents, above. The s...

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Community

Veterinarians offer advice for keeping pets safe over holidays

Veterinarians offer advice for keeping pets safe over holidays


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The holidays present a number of hazards for pets. Be sure to secure electrical cords to keep playful cats at bay.

During the holidays – when people tend to focus more on family and food – pets are often overlooked. But...

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Sports

Owls getting a lot out of a little

Owls getting a lot out of a little


In a typical season for the Foothill College women’s basketball team, coach Jody Craig wouldn’t be satisfied with a 7-4 start and No. 8 ranking in Northern California.

But this isn’t a typical season. Craig had just a few weeks ...

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Comment

Holiday cheer: No Shoes, Please

Admittedly, the holidays are not my favorite time of year. I don’t like sharing streets and parking lots with a zillion other people who need to get their shopping done. I don’t like being reminded by a holiday doomsday countdown clock h...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Pharmacy headed to 400 Main St.

Pharmacy headed to 400 Main St.


Ellie Van houtte/Town Crier
Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is scheduled to open a new store in the Jeffrey A. Morris Group’s 400 Main St. project. The new location will open in late February.

A new tenant is slated to call the recently complet...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

MERLYN "DALE" STUBBS

Merlyn "Dale" Stubbs, a 51 year resident of Los Altos Hills, passed away on December 15, 2014.

Dale was born to Harry and Anna Stubbs in Americus, Kansas on February 10, 1926.

When Dale was 9 years old his father, a carpenter, suffered a fatal hear...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

'Starcatcher' runs until Jan. 3 in PA

'Starcatcher' runs until Jan. 3 in PA


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Adrienne Walters stars as Molly and Tim Homsley portrays Peter in the TheatreWorks production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” playing through Jan. 3 at Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Theatre.

TheatreWorks’ producti...

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Spiritual Life

The good news: Christmas means the long wait is over

Ah, Christmas! The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the presents are set to be given and received, and preparations are underway to be with family.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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