If you’ve ever peered through a set of binoculars, you know first-hand that they can bring into view exquisite detail. Such as the hallmark plumage of a blue jay perched on a tree limb. But you also know that such a narrow focus can cause you to miss something going on just outside of view. Like the landing of the ruby red cardinal you’ve been waiting for. Sometimes it’s helpful to put down the binoculars, take in the full landscape and then zoom back in to an area of interest.
A similar principle applies to the way our physical therapists view spine care.
At The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, our physical therapists not only take in every detail of a spinal problem but also step back to consider the whole body, as it relates to the spine and to the particular problem. Having this wide-angled view allows our physical therapists to detect the true root of a problem and treat complex conditions.
Dr. Evan Johnson, Director of Physical Therapy at the Spine Hospital, knows this all too well. He considers the whole body when treating patients, and he often shares this expertise with fellow spine specialists.
Every year he attends, and often speaks at, the North American Spine Society (NASS) annual meeting, the world’s largest exhibition and meeting of spine experts.
At the most recent meeting he moderated a session on the ways lower limb problems can impact the spine.
He was also featured in a special video series by NASS called “Ask the Experts,” featuring a panel of spine experts discussing a different spine-related topic. In last year’s video, Dr. Johnson discussed the importance of physical therapy both before and after surgery, and this year, he talked about special considerations for treating athletes who have low back pain.
“As physical therapists, we’re often tasked with treating patients with a multitude of problems,” Dr. Johnson said in the video. “One thing we look at often is the interaction between a lower extremity and the spine.”
Patients are sometimes surprised to learn that a problem with one of their lower limbs may actually be the cause of their low back pain. For example, osteoarthritis in the hip or knee may result in strain on the spine. Treating the condition, however, is not always clear-cut. Pain can simultaneously occur in the low back and the hip or knee, and when this happens, it can be difficult to know which problem came first.
Using his deep understanding of the interplay among muscles, bones and joints in the body, Dr. Johnson is able to evaluate complex conditions and determine the best plan of treatment for an individual patient. He also makes sure that treatment in one part of the body does not create undo stress elsewhere.
In other words, Dr. Johnson keeps the whole body—or “the full picture”—in mind to remedy complex spine problems and restore health.
Read more here about how our physical therapists treat spine problems such as back pain.