You’ve likely done the dance and sang the song: “The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone. The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone… ” It’s a fun, catchy way to teach children the important bones in the body and how they fit together.
And while the body may not be as simple as having one bone connected to another, all parts of our body truly are connected. When there is a problem in one part, a resultant problem can arise elsewhere. For instance, a problem like low back pain is sometimes caused by degeneration and narrowing of the joints in the spine. This narrowing can then compress the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain that radiates down the leg.
Dr. Evan Johnson, Director of Physical Therapy at The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, understands the interplay among muscles, bones and joints and how a myriad of conditions can be related. This expertise equips him to diagnose and treat an array of spine conditions, for example low back pain. (You can read more here about how physical therapy is used in spine care.)
Because of his expertise, Dr. Johnson is often called upon to speak at the North American Spine Society (NASS) annual meeting, the world’s largest exhibition and meeting of spine experts. Physical therapists, spine surgeons and other spine specialists convene for an event full of collaborative teaching and learning.
This year, Dr. Johnson moderated a session about how lower limb problems can impact the spine. In addition to moderating, he gave two talks during the session. In one he explained how osteoarthritis in the hip or knee can actually be the cause of low back pain.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease in which the protective cushioning (cartilage) between bones has broken down. Osteoarthritis can arise in joints throughout your body and often occurs in the hips and knees.
Osteoarthritis can also arise between the bones in the spine, a condition called spinal arthritis. This can cause pain and stiffness in your back and, if nerves are involved, weakness and pain in your arms and legs.
At NASS, Dr. Johnson explained that patients with these conditions can benefit from conservative treatment strategies such as physical therapy. And when conservative options don’t work, surgery or a combination of physical therapy and surgery may be the answer.
As a physical therapist, Dr. Johnson brings a unique perspective and helps round out the spinal care at the Spine Hospital. One way he does this is through his knowledge of the complex ways the “back bone” really is connected to the “leg bone.”
See our blog posts below to learn about Dr. Johnson’s NASS talks from past years:
- Tandem Spinal Stenosis Poses Unique Challenges, Says Dr. Evan Johnson at NASS 2017
- Dr. Evan Johnson Talks Hip and Back Pain at NASS Annual Meeting
- Is the Smartphone Ruining Our Spines?
- PT Evan Johnson Speaking at North American Spine Society Meeting
- Dr. Evan Johnson Speaks at 2012 North American Spine Society Meeting
- PT Johnson Tests Strength and Balance at Annual NASS Meeting