Quite often, Back Pain, Hip Pain & Piriformis Syndrome is caused by excessive compression or strain on the tissue in or about the back/hip. This includes things like the joints in the lower back, sciatic nerve, deep hip muscles (including the piriformis), hip joint, labrum, and the glute tendons. The result is often pain, numbness, or tingling in the buttock, groin, hip, or leg.
In actuality, most of time, stretching things just makes these problems worse! (watch the video below to learn more)
Stretching tissue or compressing it- increases strain and lengthens tissue very temporarily, causing less blood supply and oxygen to get to the tissue. What most people don't realize is that there are likely positions throughout the day that are making these issues worse (or keeping them from healing). Positions that have become habits... Like- crossing your legs, standing with weight shifted onto one leg, or sleeping with the hip in a funky position (falling across body). These positions place strain and compression on tissues around the hip and can often continue to "spark" the fire or knick the scab.
Without correcting these positions, exercises may help, but often- the pain will return. To create a more optimal healing environment for problems like piriformis syndrome, sciatic nerve pain, hip bursitis/arthritis, hip impingement, back problems, or gluteal tendinopathy- be sure to correct day-2-day habits (seen in video above) to create the most optimal healing environment.
Call my office at 484-552-3767 to speak with me directly and to see if you qualify for a complimentary Lower Back & Hip Diagnostic Assessment.
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.
While there are many causes of lower back pain- the single most common cause is a herniated, bulging, or slipped disc… however you want to say it, disc problems often cause central lower back stiffness. This stiffness often occurs after sitting, driving, or spending time in a bent over position AND then trying to stand up straight. You may feel resistance or some transitional pain. As you move- you feel better and the stiffness subsides.
Understanding what could be causing your stiffness can be key in treating it. Learning what makes it better and what makes it worse, along with specific exercises can give you relief from your lower back pain.
Call 484 552 3767 if you’ve got lower back stiffness that you’re looking to resolve.
Did you know that the biggest predictor of whether or not you’ll have lower back surgery is your ZIP CODE? AND people who have an MRI are more likely to have spine surgery. Even more fishy… if the surgeon who recommends the MRI owns the MRI machine, well- the likelihood of spinal surgery increases 34%. – (Lurie, Birkmeyer et al. 2003).
If you live in the Limerick, Royersford, Phoenixville, or Collegeville area… you’re aware that surgery centers (Rothman) are popping up everywhere. And you guessed it… the more surgeons in your area… the more likely you are to have back surgery- NOT COOL… and straight up wrong if you ask me.
With spinal surgery, especially spinal fusions, on the rise… I can’t help but ask myself- What’s going on? Why not PT 1st…
And, I’d be okay with more spine surgery… if research supported that it was the best thing for people with back pain…
Unfortunately, commercials and many surgeons are still recommending fusions despite growing evidence that suggests spinal fusion is NO BETTER THAN conservative treatment (physical therapy).
Spinal fusions were originally performed to help those with severe scoliosis, fractures, and a condition where the spine is unstable (fusing the bones helps make it stable again)… they were not designed to help people with general back pain.
The only true reasons for back surgery are for problems where your nerves are being compromised… losing function- if you notice severe leg weakness or numbness in your leg that is getting worse, or loss of bowel or bladder function. In these cases, back surgery may be used to restore health of the nerve.
Here’s a video I created that chats about when you need back surgery…
I’m consistently amazed by the number of people who have general lower back pain that are recommended to have injections or even surgery as the first step in relieving their back pain or sciatica. Makes no sense.
So why do people continue to get spine surgery and whose fault is it anyway? 3 reasons that I can think of…
1- People think it will be a “quick fix” to their pain.
2- People/society continues to have a “fix me” vs “fix myself” mindset.
3- Healthcare providers not advocating for or educating their patients as they should (lack of time, insurance constraints, MONEY?!)
The takehome? If you’ve got lower back pain- stay active, be informed about your options, and remember- surgeons do surgery!
If you live in the Limerick, Royersford, Phoenixville, Collegeville, Valley Forge, King of Prussia, or Philadelphia area call 484 552 3767 to resolve your back pain naturally.
1. Institute of Report from the Committee on Advancing Pain Research., 2011)
2. Surgical predictors: Lurie JD, Birkmeyer NJ, Weinstein JN. Rates of advanced spinal imaging and spine surgery. Spine. Mar 15 2003;28(6):616-620.
3. Mannion AF, Brox JI, Fairbank JC. Consensus at last! Long-term results of all randomized controlled trials show that fusion is no better than non-operative care in improving pain and disability in chronic low back pain. Spine. 2016;16:588-50
I’m seeing a trend… and I don’t care for it.
People getting injections for their back pain before they ever try physical therapy! CRAZY… what’s the rush… why cut the lock when you could simply unlock the door… and walk inside? In other words- why do more than necessary…
Quick, but funny real-life story that I think helps represent how crazy getting injections as the first line of defense for back pain really is…
So about 3 months ago, I was pulling a late night in the clinic… it was a long day and I was tired. I was closing up shop… and locked my clinic keys inside the clinic… I had no car keys, and from what I could recall… no spare set of clinic keys. I was screwed…
I called my wife Heather annoyed, and she came to the clinic with a “So what are we going to do?” type attitude. First things first, I asked- “Do you just so happen to have a spare set of keys.” NOPE- was her response…
I said- okay then, we can try the old credit card trick, maybe a bobbie pin to pick the lock, or I’ll pry/cut the handle off (cheaper than calling a locksmith at that time of night… plus, I needed in… and had a full schedule starting at 7 the next morning).
To make a long story short… nothing worked.. and so I began prying the door handle apart… it was my last resort.
Halfway into the process, handle half ripped to shreds… my wife says- “Oh, wait- I HAVE A KEY…”
And just like that, she opened the door.
WHATTTTT- I sat there in disgust trying to channel my energy and find the fun in it…
Eventually we laughed at the silly mistake…
AND NOW- looking back, I think of how unnecessary all that was…
Why would anyone in there right mind know that they could simply “unlock” the door, but instead choose to break the handle off?! HAHA
They wouldn’t… or at least I hope not.
Point being, going to injections as your first step to manage your back pain.. is like breaking the door handle off before trying the key (physical therapy)…
I have a couple issues with and injections for back pain…
Of all these issues… the fact that injections act like a bandaide and cover up the symptoms is a MAJOR PROBLEM…
This leaves many people feeling good temporarily… and they keep lifting, sitting, bending, and twisting all the ways that got them there in the first place…
And then… people wonder why their back pain COMES BACK? It’s a no-brainer… in fact, people should expect it to…
I created a short video that chats about why meds and injections are mostly USELESS in the treatment of back pain (if you actually want to solve the root cause).
So, if you’re scheduled for an injection… and are looking for the best solution for your back pain… call 484 552 3767 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you know of anyone who’s suffering with back pain… and thinks injections are “all that can be done”… could you share this post with them?
Thanks a million,
Dr. Charlie Johnson, DPT
If you’re in Royersford, PA and are looking for natural back pain treatment- call 484 552 3767… you’ll be glad you did ;-)…
Lizzy suffered with back pain for about 12 years… and she tried almost everything. Images of her spine showed “nothing was wrong” with her, and acupuncture, chiropractic, reiki, yoga, and massage were only temporary fixes… the pain always came back and she always went back to treatment, searching for a “fix.”
I explained to Lizzie that we could likely help her, with SNIPER PT… that is super focused treatment tailored just to her. Not a “shotgun approach” to giving her 15 exercises and just hoping and praying that found relief.
You see, as a specialist physical therapist, I have been trained to find THE root cause of your issue, and attack it with just a couple VERY SPECIFIC exercises (1-3… max)- this way, when you feel relief- you know exactly what to do to continue healing yourself… what a powerful thing…
So, I started off by telling Lizzie that we would teach her to heal herself… so if she ever does feel something in the future- she can correct it (on her own) immediately… without having to rely on someone else to put her back in line- or fix her.
To her surprise (remember, she had seen many people before with little relief… and was a tad bit skeptical that we could actually do something for her) she was painfree of back pain in 4 visits… 12 years of back pain gone in 4 visits.
She was so pleased with her treatment- she agreed to create a video for you… to share her experience and try to let others know about specialized physical therapy… at Physical Therapy & Johnson in Royersford, PA.
Here’s what she had to say about her experience.
“I struggled with lower back pain for 12 years. Doctors have x-rayed me and told me everything looks fine. I’ve tried Chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki, yoga and massage to varying degrees of relief but nothing corrected the problem. A friend recently recommended Dr. Charlie. He listened to what I described and together we investigated what was going on. We worked out a series of exercises and simple adjustments to my daily life and within weeks I finally had relief. I am so very grateful to have found a healthcare practitioner who truly paid attention to me and was committed to figuring out what was going on.”
Watch the video below to meet Lizzie and hear her story…
Also, I want to let you in on a secret… most people with back pain (who’ve had it for as long as Lizzie and have tried everything) think that back pain treatment needs to be complicated in order to get results…
Honestly, this is exactly why most back pain treatment fails…
Treatment that is complicated… with lots of fancy techniques and many exercises can backfire… causing confusion for both the healthcare practioner and YOU the person with back pain… because there are just too many variables. And at the end of the day, you have no idea what’s working and what’s not… make sense?!
Secondly, most back pain treatment causes you to rely on someone or something else… versus taking ownership of things and getting in the game… working together with someone else to help yourself relieve your back pain. While this isn’t the easy road… it brings you to the ultimate solution… one where you have the knowledge, understanding, and tools to heal yourself (versus spending money on someone else to “fix you.”)
Click here to watch my video and learn more about “Why Most Back Pain Treatment Fails.”
If you live in the Royersford, PA area, and have tried everything… but still have some fight in you and are looking for natural relief (and want to feel better like Lizzie) call 484 552 3767 today.
Dr. Charlie, PT, DPT, OCS
As a physical therapist, one of the things I enjoy is helping people get back to normal. Meet Mark- Mark began having back pain from a herniated disc several months before coming to my office- we actually met at one of my free back pain workshops in Royersford, PA. While his back pain had begun to improve, he started to have pain in the back of his left leg. His leg bothered him when he sat too long, and especially if he tried to touch his toes or run… After 4 weeks and 2 visits he was 95% improved…
Here we are…
Here is what he had to say about his physical therapy experience in Royersford, PA.
My wife and I went to a free workshop that Dr. Charlie hosted and took him up on his offer to give us a free evaluation. I went because I couldn’t even sit in my car without chronic back pain. I was impressed that Dr. Charlie took the time (about an hour session each) needed not only to understand but also to educate me on why my back was malfunctioning. Three sessions later I am pain free! His excellence with heart definitely earns my five stars. Thanks for caring, Dr. Charlie!
Mark had a condition (herniated disc resulting in scarring down of the nerve) that caused the sciatic nerve in the back of his leg to become very limited in motion- causing tightness and pain in the back of his leg when sitting, bending over, or stretching his leg. It was originally caused by a herniated disc in his lower back that occurred after a long car ride (lots of sitting and slouching). While his back pain was much improved by the time he saw me- the healing of his disc caused his nerve to scar down- leaving it with less motion and feelings of tension in the back of his leg.
Through some gentle stretching and exercises for his sciatic nerve and lower back- he’s now able to run, sit, and touch his toes- PAINFREE.
If you’ve got lower back pain or leg pain (sciatica) and you live in Royersford, Limerick, Phoenixville, Collegeville, King of Prussia, or Philadelphia- call 484 552 3767 to get to the root cause, and to start feeling better today.
One of the most common questions I get when people with lower back pain come to see me for physical therapy is “So what’s causing my lower back pain?”
And the truth is- all lower back pain (or any pain for that matter) is created by the BRAIN. Meaning- pain is an experience created by the brain to protect you from some perceived threat or danger. In other words, a problem in the back isn’t really the cause of your lower back pain… it’s just that the signals from the back are being sent to the brain- where the brain is processing them to be painful. Now, don’t think for a second that I’m trying to tell you that you’re lower back pain isn’t real.. or that “it’s all in your head”- NOT TRUE…
Get this… Pain is normal.
Pain is an experience created by the brain to protect you from threatening situations and injury.
Even if no problems exist in your body, nerves, or immune system…you may still feel pain if the brain thinks you are in danger.
Simply put, without your brain, you feel no pain.
Think of your brain and the pain you experience as your alarm system…
In everyday life, you have a “normal” threshold for pain – as your nerves buzz around happily waiting to react to whatever your body feels.
So your alarm system is set and ready to go. Your nerves are just buzzing along waiting to be stimulated…
If you hit your finger with a hammer, it hurts like heck, but eventually after several hours/days, it calms down to where it was before.
Now, imagine you’ve had lower back pain for a long time…it’s likely that your alarm system has become extra sensitive leaving you with little room for you to do things before your alarm systems goes off.
When we are not in pain and life is grand, it takes a lot for your alarm system to go off — just like a car’s alarm when you have to break the windows in order to set the alarm off.
Now, when your body’s been in pain for some time, the alarm system becomes extra sensitive — Instead of having to break and bash the windows before the alarm goes off, a leaf blower goes by and your alarm goes berserk!
Simply put… your body’s alarm system becomes sensitive and leaves little room to move and do things without feeling lower back pain.
Important Point: Pain does not equal damage or injury…it is simply an experience created by the brain when it thinks your body is in danger.
Imagine you get a paper cut…
Wouldn’t you be worried if the pain stuck around for months?
Sure you would, because normally the pain goes away in minutes to hours.
Then what makes your back any different?
Most people live with lower back pain for years…yet this simply couldn’t be caused by a simple injury to your lower back muscles or disc.
All tissues in your body heal, including the muscles, ligaments, discs and nerves in your lower back within about 3-6 months.
When pain lasts longer than 3-6 months or becomes chronic and lasts for years, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with your back or your back didn’t heal properly, it simply means that your alarm system is sensitive…and for some reason, your brain still senses danger.
Think about when you get a bruise and are not aware of it…
As long as your brain doesn’t sense danger, you won’t feel pain.
Another Point: You’re not crazy…pain is very real.
BUT remember, pain is an experience…
We’ve all heard about the crazy stories of people who are injured and feel absolutely no pain.
Picture the soldier injured in war who continues to run in order to save his life.
OR the man who had his arm trapped in between two rocks and cut his own arm off in order to escape the wilderness and survive. Yikes… but a true story.
On a more basic, less extreme level…think about the pain someone would feel if they hurt their back while running across a busy highway versus getting out of a chair.
I’d be willing to bet that the person running across the highway feels much less pain than the person who’s getting out of the chair.
So, situation can impact pain.
Other things that can change your pain experience include emotions, beliefs, sleep, your job, or your pain memories… just to mention a few.
Emotions: People who feel sad or worried often feel more pain. People who are happy and relaxed generally feel less pain.
Beliefs: Growing up, some people were taught to be afraid of pain or that pain is bad. Others were taught to “get up and brush it off.” Depending on your beliefs about pain you may feel more or less pain.
Sleep: People with good sleep habits generally feel less pain. I recommend 8 hours of sleep per night. Restful sleep has been shown to decrease the sensitivity of your alarm system.
Job: People who have stressful jobs and are unhappy with their careers often experience more pain compared to those who enjoy their work.
Memories: If your back was injured in a car accident…just thinking about driving could make your pain worse. Pain memories can be powerful.
Now, you should be asking yourself, “How do I calm my alarm system down?”
First things first, in order to calm your alarm system down, we need to review a few key points:
Point Number 1: Understand that pain does not equal harm.
Just because you feel pain doesn’t mean anything serious is wrong…it just means you’re alive and your alarm system is on high alert, that’s all! Your back heals itself in 3-6 months, but your alarm system might still be sensitive.
Point Number 2: Pain does not equal gain. Remember, even though pain is created by the brain, which can sometimes cause your alarm system to become extra sensitive…even when everything has healed, it is very real. And you should still listen to it.
Okay, now that you understand these two big points, here’s how you can begin decreasing the pain that you experience…
Respect pain and listen to it, but do not fear it.
Again, pain is normal…sometimes the brain gets a little confused and senses pain incorrectly.
Sometimes the brain senses pain incorrectly OR it thinks there is actually something dangerous when really everything is just fine.
Gentle movement and exercise helps relieve pain and release chemicals that soothe nerves and calm down your alarm system.
Choose a form of exercise you enjoy…walking, biking, or swimming are all great options.
Slowly increase the amount of time you exercise week by week. Exercise up until the point you start to experience your pain, then stop. If you stick with it, you should notice that you are able to do a bit more week by week with less pain.
Okay, so this is really going to make you think…
Recent research has clearly shown that there is little to no relationship between the issues found on an X-ray or MRI and the pain you feel in your lower back.
That is to say, just as many people with pain have bulging discs as those who have absolutely no pain at all.
The same goes for things like spinal stenosis.
Wrapping things up here…
If you’ve given up hope- and have lower back pain in the Royersford, Collegeville, Phoenixville, King of Prussia, OR Philadelphia areas- call 484 552 3767 for specialized lower back pain treatment.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a man named Harry from Collegeville, PA. Harry is an awesome guy who enjoyed riding his motorcycle, taking care of his lawn, and doing things with his family. That was until his back and hip pain became so severe he could barely sleep, let alone enjoy being outdoors. In fact, on father’s day he had to “call it quits” because he couldn’t tolerate moving around. He had expensive MRI’s, injections, and other treatments that weren’t giving him relief. He had yet to try physical therapy and specialized back pain treatment… until one day he decided he had HAD ENOUGH…
After 5 visits of treatment to his lower back, including hands on manual therapy, specific back pain exercises, and back pain education- He just sent me a text… “Charlie, motorcycle trip went without incident…” Pretty Cool- NO PAIN! Harry’s back to living life without the constant thought of lower back pain… and he’s way more in control of his back pain- so that he can keep it from coming back.
Meet Harry- at my physical therapy clinic in Royersford, PA… where we specialize in treating lower back pain… (see the other happy campers on the wall behind him)
Here’s what Harry had to say about his physical therapy experience… Right here in Royersford, PA
“I encountered hip pain so severe I could not walk, sleep or stand due to spinal stenosis, arthritis and degenerative disc disease. I sought relief from medical doctors, but they failed to give any solution after prescribing tests, medications, x-rays, and MRI’s. Dr. Charlie guided me within five weeks to where I am no longer in constant pain, and I am able to resume normal activities.
|Severe Left Hip Pain||Stretches and strength exercises.||Able to resume everyday activities within 3 visits.|
|Pain prohibited sleep due to discomfort||Understand the contributing factors to pain and use knowledge tools to reduce pain.||Able to get comfortable lying in bed after three visits. I now know how to reduce or eliminate the pain through stretches.|
|Unable to sit in car or chair||Use of proper seat adjustment and back supports to reduce pain.||Able to drive and sit without discomfort within three weeks.|
|Walking short distances, unable to go far.||Use exercise and stretches to relieve pain||After three office visits, I can walk without restrictions.|
Dr. Charlie took the time to listen and understand my pain issues and develop a remedy plan specific to my needs. I highly recommend Dr. Charlie and his PT skills above seeking relief through medical professionals. PT is much quicker, less expensive, less stressful.”
If you have back pain and are looking for back pain treatment and specialized physical therapy treatment in Royersford, Collegeville, Phoenixville, Limerick, King of Prussia, OR Philadelphia, PA- call 484 552 3767 or email email@example.com.
Dr. Charlie Johnson, PT
While there are many causes of lower back pain and/or leg pain, there are two causes that are MOST common. In most cases, leg pain is caused by pressure on a nerve or the discs in the lower back. Physical therapy treatment is aimed at relieving pressure on one or both of these structures.
Watch the short video below to learn more…
There are two types of leg pain… REFERRED and RADIATING. leg pain… OR BOTH.
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 is 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…
Think of the Sciatic nerve like a garden hose… Now, imagine you’re outside watering your plants when all the sudden the flow of water stops… What do you do? You check for a KINK! When you find the kink and undo it, the water starts flowing again. Now, nerves carry information such as FEELING and MOVEMENT… meaning depending on where they travel- they allow you to feel things touching you, and they “plug into” muscles- allowing your muscles to move and fire. When there is a KINK (or compression) on the nerve, you may notice that you develop numbness or tingling, OR even weakness in the leg. Any great physical therapist is trained to find the KINK and relieve the pressure on the nerve so that you feel normal again.
I know- complicated right? Well, if you’re in the Royersford, Limerick, Collegeville, Trappe, Phoenixville, King of Prussia, or Philadelphia, PA area- and have questions about back pain treatment or need specialized physical therapy- call 484 552 3767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org