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 Trappe, PA area- and have questions about back pain treatment or need specialized physical therapy- call 484 552 3767 or email email@example.com
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.
Shoulder pain is super common… luckily physical therapy has been shown to be just as effective (not to mention much safer) than surgery. There are four main types of shoulder pain. Here they are…
Click the link below or keep reading.
1. Weak & Painful Shoulder
2. Stiff & Painful Shoulder
3. Unstable Shoulder
4. Other (often from the neck)
WEAK & PAINFUL SHOULDERS: People who have weak and painful shoulders are often told they have shoulder impingement, a rotator cuff tear, tendinitis, bursitis, or bone spurs. These people can often move their arm fully, without loss of motion, but often have pain while doing so. The pain commonly occurs while reaching up and out the side or behind the back. Treatment for this type of shoulder involves gradually strengthening the shoulder and restoring painfree movement through hands on therapy and exercise.
STIFF & PAINFUL SHOULDERS: People who have stiff and painful shoulders often have a gradual onset of pain and loss of motion. Common problems that cause a stiff and painful shoulder include shoulder arthritis or frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). You’ll know if you have a stiff and painful shoulder… reaching up and out to the side with be difficult (not just because it hurts)- you physically cannot move it in that direction. A quick test would be to stand with your arms by your side (elbows by side and bent upwards)… try and rotate the back of your hand outwards. You may notice that shoulder pain and stiffness on one side prevents your from moving very far… but the other painfree side might move fine. Treatment for this type of shoulder involves gradually increasing your motion through stretching and strengthening.
UNSTABLE SHOULDERS: People with unstable shoulders often have a history of their shoulder dislocating or popping out socket. Sometimes there is clicking and popping or an ability to “pop your shoulders” in and out. Often these folks are “double jointed” and are very flexible. Unstable shoulders occur commonly in sports such as baseball and gymnastics (where the shoulder is required to move through a lot of motion). Treatment for unstable shoulders can sometimes involve surgery (if it becomes a recurrent problem) or strengthening of the unstable shoulder.
A PROBLEM IN THE NECK (OTHER): Some people I see who think they have a problem in the shoulder actually have a problem in the neck causing their shoulder pain. These people may describe their shoulder pain as burning, or may experience pain, numbness, or tingling down their arm. If the neck is in fact the problem, your shoulder pain should reproduced by specific movements of your neck. Discs, joints, and nerves in or about the neck can send pain signals to your shoulder blade and shoulder, elbow, or hand. Treatment for this cause of pain involves hands on therapy of the neck and sometimes the nerves in the neck- as well as specific neck and postural exercises.
To help determine if your shoulder pain could be coming from the neck- watch this video.
Call 484 552 3767 if you’ve got shoulder pain and want relief.
Hip pain and arthritis can cause groin pain, buttock pain, outer hip pain, and even knee or shin pain. If you’re having trouble crossing your legs- or sitting indian style… then you might benefit from hip treatment to make you move and feel better…
Just the other day, a women came to me with buttock, knee, and shin pain- after she had been told it was coming from her lower back… she even had injections to her lower back- with NO RELIEF.
After listening to her story, and looking at how she moved, It was clear that all of her symptoms were caused by a problem in her hip- NOT her back… in fact, she had no back pain… had someone taken the time to listen- it was clear that she had no back problem.
When I asked- what do you feel is causing your problem- she said, “My Hip!”
Sad, but true…
Anyways, there are several common signs of hip arthritis… click the video to learn the 4 Telltale Signs…
Hip arthritis often sounds and feels like a problem coming from the back— you might even have a problem in the back and the hip!
But, if you’ve been treated for your back pain and nothing is working- consider that perhaps you have no problem in your back…
If you’re 50 years of age or older, and feel buttock, groin, or outer hip pain… even knee pain or shin pain- be aware that your hip could be the problem.
The hip can refer or send pain to all of these areas… many mistake a problem in the hip as a problem in the back… or even sciatica.
It can be easy to miss…
There are even stories of people who have knee replacements (get new knees) and afterwards feel no relief. But when they later get treatment for their hip- or even a hip replacement- all their knee pain is gone…
Hip pain treatment is aimed at improving motion in the hip and then getting you stronger, so you can move better and get back to normal. Many times a hip surgery/replacement is not needed. Physical therapy and specialized hip treatment can completely relieve your pain… cool stuff.
Anyways, if you’re in the Royersford, Limerick, Collegeville, or Phoenixville, PA area- call 484 552 3767 to figure out the cause of your buttock and groin pain.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Charlie Johnson, PT