The Cause Of Dull, Achy, Annoying Pain In The Buttock, Hamstring, or Calf

There are two types of leg pain… REFERRED and RADIATING. leg pain… OR BOTH. One is Sciatica- the other is not… but they can feel similar and be felt in the same places- in the back, buttock, hamstring, or calf area.

Referred pain is just as it sounds… pain referred or signals sent from one place to another. So, in the spine- the structures like the joints and discs in the back can send pain signals to parts of the body (other than just the back) into the buttock and down the leg. Depending on which structure is irritated will determine where you feel your symptoms… Referred pain is “non specific” and LARGER in coverage than radiating pain. It is often described as deep and achy and hard to pin point exactly…

On the other hand- Radiating pain often involves irritation or compression of the nerve in the back… often termed as sciatica. Radiating pain takes a more specific path- and is often described as electric, shooting, or burning… you might even feel numbness or tingling.

And because a herniated DISC is the number one cause of SCIATICA many people have BOTH types of pain… which can be felt in the buttock, hamstring, or calf area.

The key to solving either of these is to understand the “TRIGGERS” or the activities, things, or positions that make your back, buttock, leg, or calf pain worse. Once you understand what makes it worse- you can often make it better.

Natural treatment involves using movement as medicine to move the spine and leg in ways that reduce pressure on painful structures allowing your body to heal.

I know- complicated right? Well, if you’re in the Royersford, Limerick, Collegeville, Phoenixville, or Trapped, PA area- and have questions about back pain treatment or need specialized physical therapy- call 484 552 3767 or email charliejohnsondpt@gmail.com

There’s a 90% Chance You Have Sciatica If You Have These 5 Things.

Do you or someone you know have sciatica?  OR do you THINK you have it? Most people think they have sciatica- when in actually they don't. Truth is, if you're dealing with some form of back, buttock, or leg pain- there's only a 4% chance that it's caused by sciatica. Despite what you've been told (and how it seems like everybody says they have sciatica) it's actually pretty rare. Keep reading or watch my video below to learn 5 telltale signs of sciatica, including one simple 30 second self-test to confirm if you have it. 

Now, sciatica is simply an irritation of the sciatic nerve as it runs from the back, down the back of the leg, into the foot. Causes include many things like herniated discs, piriformis syndrome, and spinal stenosis. Common telltale signs that you have a problem with the sciatica nerve (sciatica) include:

1-Feelings of Numbness, Tingling, Burning, Shooting down your leg

2-And these feelings travel down your leg in a very narrow path/band (usually 1-2 inches in width that can be traced with your finger down the back of your leg).

3-And your leg pain is now worse than you back pain.

4-And you have pain below the level of the knee (maybe even into the foot).

5-Stretching the sciatic nerve is painful, limited, or uncomfortable. (watch second half of video for self movement test)

If you've got all 5 of these signs- research shows that there is a greater than 90% chance that you have sciatica as the cause of your leg pain.​

The first step to relief is to find out what triggers your back pain, numbness, or tingling and modify or tweak those things.  The next step is to use specific movements to reduce irritation on the nerve. 

If sciatica is keeping you from doing the things you love (or just keeping you up at night) give us a call at 484-552-3767 and we can help get you back to normal.

For People Who Sit For More Than 4 Hours A Day: Learn The Top 3 30 Second Mirostretches That Reduce Your Chances Of Missing Work Due To Back Pain By 70%

Back pain is the LEADING cause of missed work, disability claims, and workplace injury. Studies show that 80 percent of adults will suffer with back pain. Americans spend more money on back pain then they spend on cancer!! BUT… Back injuries almost always get better!! The most effective treatment is EDUCATION about how your back works, ages, and fails. For the office worker who's stuck behind a desk 8+ hours a day- these three simple stretches have been proven to reduce back pain throughout your work day. Do a round of these one time every 2 hours- or 3-5x daily.

1- Standing Back Bends​



Keep your discs healthy… Reduce forward bending, repeated bending, too much sitting, and low lifting. We spend way too much time sitting and bending… damaging discs. Reverse this by frequent 10-sec backward bending stretches. This restores water content in discs and reduces disc bulging. Frequent standing back bends during the day, then at end day lie on your belly propped up on-elbows one minute or full press-ups to stretch backward 3 seconds, 5 times.

2- Seated Knee Straightening (nerve and hamstring stretch)



Seated up tall- gently straighten one leg until stretch is felt behind leg... make sure that as you straighten your knee- your back DOES NOT round. If it wants to round/rock back- go to the point where you feel it wanting to round and no further. Hold the stretch at the top for 2 seconds. Perform 10 reps each leg.

3- Relaxation



Stress worsens Pain- and then Pain worsens Stress...

A simple RELAXATION EXERCISE can greatly reduce this process. Do this often through the day. Make fists and shrug shoulders as you inhale 3 seconds - tensing your muscles... then relax everything.

If you sit for most of the day- pressure increases in certain structures throughout the lower back (most commonly this can cause things like herniated discs, piriformis problems, hip pain, or sciatica).  This reduces the blood flow to the area (picture sitting on a sponge soaked with water... sitting on it for hours would squash all the water out and prevent any water from reabsorbing back on in... eventually, if you sit there long enough it would dry out.   In the body, the same concept happens- as we stay in one position (sitting) we decrease blood flow and oxygen to tissue.  Without fresh blood flow, waste within the tissue builds up- and can cause pain.  Doing the above exercises throughout the day keeps tissue healthy and moving- so that blood and oxygen never gets cut off for too long.  

If you live in the Royersford, Collegeville, Phoenixville, or King Of Prussia, PA area- and work has you stuck behind a desk- give these "microstretches" a try.

Any question? Email me directly at charliejohnsondpt@gmail.com​

How To Relieve Lower Back Pain And Sciatica While Sitting OR Driving In King Of Prussia, PA

Many people with lower back pain or sciatica have pain driving or sitting for too long. In this case, it's helpful to understand why you might be feeling what you're feeling. Watch this video below to learn why most people have back pain when sitting or driving, what 10 second microstretch you could be doing to completely eliminate your pain (and allow you to stand up without being hunched over), and simple DIY changes you can make today to feel immediate lower back pain and sciatica relief.  Click the video below to watch...

If you have lower back pain only, start to tweak or modify your sitting position- to see if you can change your lower back pain or leg pain.You could do this first by either slouching or sitting up super tall (rocking pelvis forward so you create an extreme arch in your lower back). You should then ask yourself- do things feel same, better or worse. If slouching makes things feel better- move your seat one inch closer and keep doing that. If slouching makes you feel worse- then try sitting up super tall... and see what that does... IF this helps- do more of this- consider adding a lower back support (small towel roll) behind your lower back while driving. You could also try sitting on a wedge, or tilting the front of your seat down. "Bucket seats" in many cars will cause your knees to be positioned slightly higher than your hips- which often causes your pelvis to rock backwards- resulting in you slouching.  Sitting on a wedge or tilting the front of the seat slightly down will help to lessen this.   What you'll often find is that changing the position of your spine will change either your back or leg symptoms. If this is the case- GREAT... you've found a switch.  

As we know- if something is REPRODUCIBLE it is likely RE-DUCIBLE...​

If you primarily have leg pain while you sit (but especially as you drive- because of how your legs may be extended to push on the gas/break...) then you may benefit from doing a couple things. First, move your seat one to two inches closer, or sit on a soft surface (you may find that the surface is a main issue... as sitting may be causing compression/too much pressure on the sensitive structures caused by nerve irritation...In either scenario- the idea is to tweak what bothers you- to see if you can change symptoms or pain... ideally you find a position that gives you relief... so that your pain and problem can start to calm down AND so that you can stop aggravating it every time you need to sit or drive.

Also, consider that movement is your medicine.  You should understand that sitting and driving puts you most often in a bent or "flexed" forward position.  Many times the spine and nerves can become sensitive to this position and need more of the opposite... and upright or "extended" position.

To apply this concept- try doing 10 standing backbends (I call this a microstretch) before, during, and immediately after driving or sitting for an extended period of time.  While sitting- use a small towel roll shoved behind your lower back (at the level of the belt line) to keep you up tall​.  Every hour- be sure to stand up and take your medicine (10 backbends).  This will likely help reduce the stiffness you feel when going from a sitting to standing position.  Be sure to end the routine with 10 more backbends after you've gotten up.

Hope this helps.​

If you're located in the Collegeville, Royersford, Limerick, Phoenixville, or King Of Prussia area and are struggling with lower back pain or sciatica- but can't seem to find relief... call 484-552-3767 now to speak with a Back Pain & Sciatica Specialist.

Piriformis Syndrome Treatment- Stop Stretching, Start Strengthening

If you've ever experienced a pain in the butt- you may have searched around (or been told) that it could be a back issue, hip issue, or piriformis syndrome... and so, I wanted to touch on piriformis syndrome and highlight a trap in the treatment of piriformis syndrome that you could be falling into. This mistake often leads to little progress and prolonged suffering from buttock pain or sciatica...

The single biggest mistake I see people with buttock pain and supposed "piriformis" syndrome is stretching not strengthening...​

People in this type of pain are trying to "stretch" their pain away...

They go to yoga, do their own stretches, and think that stretching is the answer to every bodily ache or pain. People are doing "hip openers" and "opening up their chest" or being told to "pull their shoulder blades down and back." And, while there is nothing wrong with stretching, it's making many of their problems worse (rather than better). I've recently told 5 people (in the past week) to stop stretching (like stop stretching COLD TURKEY... just cut it out all together)...

I told them to "STIFFEN UP" instead... and guess what...

Suddenly, their pain started to go away... and instead of stretching (making things longer/more flexible) we began to make things shorter by contracting muscles and strengthening things up.

You might be thinking to yourself- What? That's totally odd and against what everyone else has told me.

​Think about it- the chiro cracks your back, the massage therapist works out your knots, yoga twists you up, acupuncture releases your trigger points- all with the goal of getting you to loosen up- or MOVE MORE.

I'll be the first to say... sometimes you just need to MOVE LESS and be more stiff (less mobile)...

A youtube video I created last year is causing a total ruckus on youtube by talking about this concept... and has helped hundreds of people who have been stretching the heck out of their lower back and hips to finally feel relief...

Click the video below to watch.

​FYI- this concept applies to people who have chronic neck and shoulder pain and have been "stretching things out" or seeing the chiro and massage therapist for years without relief.

Applied correctly to the right person- this idea can work for any body region where things "feel tight"... and stretching only gives temporary feel-good relief...

​And so, if you're in pain and have been "stretching things out" with little to no long term relief then consider that stretching is not the solution... In fact, I say- rock the boat and do the opposite- stiffen up.

Comment below if you're searching for physical therapy in Royersford, Collegeville, Limerick, or Phoenixville, PA and are dealing with any form of pain that has NOT been relieved by "stretching" things out.​

Dr. Charlie​

Creating Goals & Sticking To Them Like Glue In 2019

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again- gyms are packed with “wannabe’s” who wanna lose weight, get stronger, relieve their back pain, improve their looks, and finally “get on track.”

Then February rolls around and everything returns to normal- the same people who were up early and grinding hard- are back to their old routines- hitting snooze, avoiding anything that makes them uncomfortable (like working out), and putting their lives on cruise control (again)... expecting a different result- or that tomorrow will be “the day.”

Unfortunately, this happens to so many people (including myself)... and it’s sad. I believe everyone has a purpose, but a lack of willpower, and inability to commit and stay disciplined stops people dead in their tracks- fearful to make the leap, put in the work, and change their life (for the better).

Because I believe so much in the power of exercise (and because so many people make new year's resolutions around “getting in shape”) I’ve created a video that outlines the my top 5 tips for smashing your new year’s health resolution and sticking to it like glue- so that you’re not one of “Those” people.

Watch the video below... or CLICK HERE​

If you’ve ever wondered why some people say they’ll do things (like exercise) but never follow through- then this video is for you. If you’re looking to create a plan and stick to it in 2019- so that you can get in shape and out of pain…

Here’s what the video covers:

  • Why 95% (or more) of people never meet their New Year’s Resolution of getting healthy and in shape.

  • The importance of a plan- how to reverse engineer your goals and make sure they’re met (NOT folded up and tossed in the trash)

  • Why the KISS principle will make or break your success in 2019- and why fancy, complicated exercise routines (and treatments- for people in pain) guarantee you’ll fail.

  • The Power Of Habit and the 3 things that must happen (in a very specific order) for you to break the cycle of failure and dropping the ball on your goals.

  • The ultimate “fool-proof” backup plan that holds you accountable for every action- even when you’re feeling weak, broken, and wanting to give up.

  • How to track yourself and turn yourself into a modern day Terminator- a “human machine” that puts you in driver seat towards understanding yourself and reaching your goals.

Below is a version of my very own “Health Tracking Sheet” that you can use to make 2019 your healthiest year yet… be sure to MAKE A COPY of the document first… then feel free to use/change/make it your own.

Click here to learn how you can make 2019 your best year yet.

DOWNLOAD MY HEALTH TRACKING SHEET HERE... you'll be instructed to make a copy...  here's an idea of what it looks like



To your success,

Dr. Charlie

PS- if pain is keeping you out of the gym or from exercise, comment below and let’s see how we can get you on track.

Pinched Nerve Self-Test: 4 Simple Tests To Tell If You Have A Pinched Nerve

Pinched Nerve Self-Test

Neck and arm pain is often the result of an irritated or compressed nerve (sometimes called a pinched nerve) somewhere in the spine or shoulder area. Neck or arm pain is any pain that begins in the neck and travels below the level of the shoulder into the arm. People with sensitive or pinched nerves in their neck may experience feeling of pain, numbness, or tingling throughout their shoulder blade area extending into their arm or even their hand.

Now, just a fair warning… while the link between a problem in your neck and the pain you feel in your arm can be super obvious… it may not be clear at all. In fact, many people I see only have shoulder, elbow, or wrist pain… and only have some mild neck pain or stiffness. So yes, it is possible that what you think is a problem only with your shoulder, or your elbow, may actually be a problem coming from your neck.

Healthy nerves can glide, compress, or tension. When a nerve can no longer do these things due to injury, prolonged postures, or overuse it can become temporarily unhealthy. Also, know that Healthy nerves also need a strong blood supply. Unhealthy nerves will often cause feelings of
weakness, burning, shooting, numbness or tingling. Simply put, there is a problem somewhere
along the highway.

What is a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is an unhealthy nerve due mainly to nerve compression or lack of blood supply. Most often this compression occurs at the level of the neck.  But as we know, each nerve is like a garden hose, that can be “kinked” or compressed anywhere along its path.  Take carpal tunnel for example, the compression of the nerve in this case is not at the neck, but at the wrist.

For the purpose of this post we will discuss pinched nerves that occur due to compression of
the nerves as they exit the neck. But be aware- sometimes nerves just become sensitive and are not actually pinched…

Just as an FYI- the fancy name for a pinched nerve is cervical radiculopathy- look it up and you’ll likely find all kinds of scary stuff…keep reading and I’ll try to ease your mind while explaining what a pinched nerve really is.

You should understand that nerves are like highways. I’ll repeat again. Say it with
me…Nerves are like HIGHWAYS!  Pinched nerves are like highways with traffic jams that cause
temporary closure of some or all the lanes. If we close one of these lanes we slow the sending
of information and we end up with feelings of pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling
(Keep reading to discover the two most common causes of pinched nerves). Just as you make
take certain highways to get from one destination to another, nerves do the same. Feeling and
movement to different parts of the body are controlled by certain nerves.

While there are 8 big nerves or highways that branch from the neck. We will focus on 3 of these big nerves that travel from the neck down your arm that allow you to feel and move your hand and fingers. These nerves are the sixth, seventh, and eight cervical nerves. Cervical meaning neck and the number referring to the specific nerve level.  Think of them as highway C6, C7, C8. Each of these nerves allows a certain area of the arm and hand the ability to feel and move.  When we talk about feeling, the C6 nerve (the 6th nerve in the neck) generally gives feeling to the thumb and pointer finger, the C7 nerve gives feeling to the pointer and middle finger, whereas C8 gives feeling to the ring and little (pinky) fingers. The most commonly pinched nerve is C7 followed by C6, with C8 rarely being pinched. Why are these nerves commonly pinched you might ask??

For two reasons- the hole where the nerve exits is smallest between the 6th and 7th neck bones- leaving less space for the nerve to exit…

AND- the C7 highway, or the 7th nerve in the neck, is the largest nerve. Put these two things together and the nerve has less room to travel and is easier to become pinched.

Depending upon the nerve(s) that are pinched will often determine where you feel your
feelings of pain, numbness and tingling.

What causes a pinched nerve?

There are two major causes (or accidents if you like my “nerves are like highways” idea) that
may result in a pinched nerve.

1. Herniated Disc- usually causes only one nerve to be compressed and is most common in people aged 35-55

2. Arthritis or bone spurs-may cause multiple nerve levels to be compressed and is most common in people over 40 years old.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to recall what caused your pinched nerve. And often, there
may seem to be no obvious reason at all for a pinched nerve to occur…

More obvious causes of a pinched nerve include heavy lifting, car accidents or falls, and prolonged postures that occur throughout our days at home and while at work.

What does a pinched nerve feel like?
The most common feelings are pain, numbness, and tingling.  Although everyone is unique and
may describe feelings from a pinched nerve as:
Electric
Burning
Weakness
Shocking
Coolness
Bee stings
Shooting

One lady even told me “It feels like ants are crawling on me…”

Point being, pinched nerves can create many unusual and scary feelings.

To determine if you have a pinched nerve- take this neck pain and pinched nerve self-test.

How’d it go?  Have questions or need help?  Call 484-552-3767 to learn about how you can naturally heal neck pain and pinched nerves or email me directly at 484-552-3767

The Secret Surgeons Hope You Never Find Out About

The Real Truth Behind Why You’re In Pain (It’s Not What You’ve Been Told)

Did You Know?

Pain is an experience and output created by the Brain.

Consider one person who goes to the doctor with back pain and is told by a surgeon that most back pain heals, and that the best treatment for back pain is actually not surgery- it’s exercise. Now, consider another person who sees a surgeon and is told that their MRI shows they’ve got the worst back he or she (surgeon) has ever seen. And are told that the only way they won’t be crippled is to have back surgery. Who do you think will be better in the long run? Who is more likely to be in pain 1 year from now? I can tell you from personal experience, and from what research tells us, that the person who’s been led to believe that they cannot heal- will not heal.

Everyone feels pain- but not everyone will stay in pain. Some people who injure themselves go on to recover nicely- and return to living life painfree. Others end up suffering- and limit their lives due to pain that just won’t go away. What’s the difference?

Consider that the amount of tissue damage has no correlation to the amount of pain you’ll feel.

Don’t believe me… here is the headline of an article recently published in the Journal Of Bone And Joint Surgery…

Even the surgeons admit it!

Take, for example, a time when you noticed a bruise but have no idea how it got there. Or the stories of people in extreme conditions who were shot, or impaled- and managed to survive these conditions. Or, what about the man who cut his arm off to escape being trapped between two boulders in the middle of the woods! OR, ever taken a warm shower after being in the sun all day- feels like it’s burning you- but as you know- IT”S NOT… it’s simply hypersensitive receptors on your skin… causing you to think that the warm water is actually very hot.

You see- pain is an experience. It is more than just tissue damage- infact, that has very little to do with it. Consider that being told you have a slipped disc, and being shown pictures of a slipped disc actually make you feel more back pain! Basically, your brain is always attempting to answer the question- “How dangerous is this input?” And, the answer is largely influenced by many factors- including actual tissue damage, stress, what we’re told, x-ray and MRI results, and sleep quality. We now know that someone who has an MRI and knows the results of those tests feels more pain than someone who knows nothing at all!

Watch this video below. It explains the complexity of pain- and answers the question- What is Pain?

So, the takehome… don’t let x-rays and MRI’s disable you. Understand that pain is a complex thing that doesn’t mean your broken- it’s simply your body’s alarm system telling you something isn’t quite right… And sometimes, your alarm system keeps going off even when your tissue is completely healed… making you feel pain when there is actually no damage or problem.

Keep your head up! There’s hope.

Call 484 552 3767 to speak to a specialist physical therapist who can help guide you on the road to recovery.

Step One- Healing a Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc Treatment: Step One- A self question and answer quiz to help you get in touch with what’s going on and help you determine if you have the symptoms of a herniated disc… Knowing what could have caused your back pain, when it started and what makes it better/worse as well as where you’re feeling things- are all super important questions to know and understand.

Once we know the answers to these questions we can start to to get to the root cause of your back pain and begin treatment for you herniated disc and begin specific exercises to get you relief from your lower back pain.

Click the video below to learn how to start healing your own back..

If you live in the Philadelphia or King Of Prussia area- and are looking to get to the root cause of your pain naturally, over drugs, injections, or surgery…

Call 484 552 3767 to learn about our lower back pain treatment program.

Will My Herniated Disc Heal?

A common question people ask me (on a near daily basis) is- Can my herniated disc heal… or will I need surgery? The answer is a quick YES (meaning yes it can heal.. and NO you likely will not need surgery). This is great news- your body has an amazing ability to send specialized healing cells to the area that’s injured to help the tissue heal.

Truth is, your back is no different than a papercut… both get injured and both can heal. Now, I get it- having back pain is mysterious- most of the time we have no clue what brought it on… and even when we do- WE CAN’T SEE A THING! This can be scary… and leave us wondering what could be going on down there. In many cases- people get images to try and “figure out” what the issue is… Unfortunately- that rarely works… Why? Well, it’s been shown that there is little to no correlation between what is found on the image and what causes your pain. Who’s to say what was found on your x-ray or MRI wasn’t there 10 years ago… and you never knew about it until someone went searching for a problem.

Send your cell phone into the lab to be “swabbed” for germs… do you think they’ll find any? OF COURSE… same goes for your back. Now, do you go around worrying about all those germs… probably not. Your back is no different.

Most people can’t handle the truth (but I tell them anyways) that in many cases of lower back pain- we have no idea what the root cause it… meaning- we don’t know what’s going on.

Crazy, but true. So, if you’ve been told you have a herniated disc- take it with a grain of salt… and know that IF it actually is the source of your back pain- chances are high that it will heal up just fine within 3-6 months.

If you’re looking for quick relief- call us at 484 552 3767.

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