Book review: ‘Ending Back Pain’ by Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D.

‘Ending Back Pain’ by Jack Stern, M.D. Ph.D. offers readers a variety of treatment options to ease back pain. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D. is a board-certified surgeon specializing in spine neurosurgery. He is the co-founder of Spine Options, New York’s first and only facility committed to non-surgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern has been on the front lines of back pain treatment and research for more than four decades, during which he has helped more than ten thousand patients find relief. In his book “Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back,” he shares a multidisciplinary, holistic perspective that has been missing from conventional back pain treatment and has already helped thousands of patients suffering from back pain.

“Ending Back Pain” begins with a Preface where Dr. Stern shares his experience with back pain. After a well-meaning birthday gift from his wife-a massage, goes horribly wrong, he was able to self-diagnose and, thanks to proper access to medical care, get the necessary treatment to get relief. He realized that most people are not so lucky. This experience deepened his understanding of what his patients go through and made him a more empathetic doctor. His goal in writing this book is “to equip every back pain sufferer with the information and power to get to the bottom of his or her own problem.” It is a step-by-step companion to enable people to finally achieve a pain-free lifestyle.

The book is divided into five steps: Step 1: Unlock Your Back’s Unique Pain Code, Step 2: Prepare to Work with Health Care Professionals, Step 3: Ensure Proper Diagnosis, Step 4: Embrace Various Pathways to Healing: A Physical and Emotional Journey and Step 5: Live a Life That Supports a Strong, Healthy Back. He begins step 1 with a checklist to help readers pinpoint exactly where the pain is located. Part of this has to do with the six Pain Generators: muscles, soft tissue, bones, discs, facets and neural foramina. This information is meant to create better educated patients who are active participants in the treatment of his or her medical issues to receive the best care possible. At the end, he provides a section of recommended reading and online resources for anyone who wants more information on the subject.

Not only is the author a doctor, but he also understands how debilitating back pain can be and how frustrating it can be to seek treatment. That is what gives “Ending Back Pain” an authentic voice. This extremely useful guide contains basic anatomy lessons that often read like a textbook. The purpose is to help readers understand the origin of their pain. He achieves this without using complicated medical jargon, but easy to understand terminology. Highlights include Step 3 where Dr. Stern explains the inner workings of a doctor’s mind and the different types of pain to help patients ensure a proper diagnosis; and Step 4 which includes other medical options such as physical therapy, acupuncture and yoga/Pilates. Step 5 is especially informative on how posture, sleep, positive thinking and a healthy diet can help treat and in some cases prevent back pain. “Ending Back Pain” is recommended for readers who want to be informed patients regarding pain with the understanding that in the long run, informed patients get better care.

“Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States-only headaches are more common….And some 95 percent will recover from back pain without invasive or risky treatments.”

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.


‘A Christmas Carol, the Musical’ at the Woodlawn Theatre

Isidro Medina as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Woodlawn Theatre’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol, the Musical.’  Photo: Woodlawn Theatre, used with production.

The holidays have arrived at the Woodlawn Theatre with their next production, ‘A Christmas Carol, the Musical.’ It opens this Friday November 29 and will run through Monday December 23, 2019. ‘A Christmas Carol, the Musical’ is the story of the mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge who, on Christmas Eve, receives visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and is given a chance for redemption. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling the Box Office at 210-267-8388. Ticket prices are: Adults $30, Senior/Military/First Responders $24, Children/Student $18. Groups of 10 people or more receive a 20% discount. The non-profit partner during this production is Any Baby Can. (Woodlawn Theatre, 2019)

‘A Christmas Carol, the Musical’ is based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella of the same name. Ebenezer Scrooge is a prosperous curmudgeon who believes that personal wealth is far more valuable than the happiness and comfort of others. With an infuriated “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge summates his feelings of Christmas tidings and charitable giving but he is forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts on Christmas Eve lead him through his Past, Present and Future. Thanks to their guidance, Scrooge recognizes his faults and greets Christmas morning with a cheerful “Happy Christmas” before spending the day reconnecting and sharing love with those that mean the most to him. It has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens. Cast includes Isidro Medina as Ebenezer Scrooge, Travis Bulen as Bob Cratchit and Nicholas Duke as Tiny Tim with Ronald Watson as director and Kate Ragan as choreographer.

Promotional Nights:
Student Night – Saturday November 30 – $10 Student/Child tickets with code: STUDENT
Pride Night – Friday December 13, 25% off tickets with code: PRIDE
ASL (American Sign Language) Night – Saturday December 21 – 25% off tickets with code: ASL

Woodlawn Theatre
1920 Fredericksburg Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78201
(210) 267-8388

Holiday shopping deals around town

Photo: Shake Shack, used with permission.

This week, Black Friday ushers in the holiday shopping season and area businesses are offering special deals to their customers to help them get the most for their dollars. (Shake Shack, Pluckers Wing Bar, Hiatus Spa + Retreat, 2019)

In celebration of Black FridayShake Shack will be running a Black FryDay promotion from November 27 through December 1. Each guest (for all order modes – in-Shack, App pick-up, or delivery order) will receive a scratch-off ticket in their bag for the chance to win a prize. The scratch off area is the first gondola and all cards will be a winner. Prizes include:  Free burger with any $20+ order or free fries with any $15+ order on the Shack App, Free Delivery with any $15+ order through Grubhub or Free Shack for a year (aka a $2,500 gift card). This offer would be a great time to try one of Shake Shack’s holiday shakes: Christmas Cookie Shake, Chocolate Peppermint Shake and Coconut Snowball Shake – which are offered now through January 5.

    • Christmas Cookie Shake: Sugar cookie frozen custard, topped with whipped cream, crumbled shortbread and holiday sprinkles.
    • Chocolate Peppermint Shake: Chocolate custard, peppermint fudge sauce, topped with whipped cream and chocolate peppermint bark.
    • Coconut Snowball Shake: Vanilla custard, coconut, marshmallow, topped with whipped cream, coconut and sprinkles.

Pluckers Wing Bar will be offering $10 Pluckers Club Memberships on Black Friday and 20%-off everything via the Pluckers Shop (excluding gift cards) on Cyber Monday. Pluckers Club members enjoy a variety of rewards, including, but not limited to, free birthday meals, invitations to exclusive events, food and drink specials and more. Pluckers club membership is now available through the app on iTunes and Google Play – a treat for current and aspiring members.

Hiatus Spa + Retreat is running a special on their Bright and Early gift cards perfect for holiday gifting, stocking stuffers and to kick off the new year. Guests who purchase an online gift card valued at $125.00 get it for only $99.00. The limited time offer is valid through Friday, November 29. Hiatus Spa + Retreat is ringing in the holidays with the December monthly specials and holiday packages such as:

        • The Merry & Bright: Two is better than one. Pick any two Essential Services–The Signature Massage, The Tailor Made Facial, The One & Only Mani-Pedi, The Body Glow or The Body Wrap–and make a day of your getaway. 2 or more hours, $179 (up to $220 value)
        • The Peace, Love, & Joy: their three most in-demand services —The Signature Massage, The Tailor Made Facial and The One & Only Mani-Pedi — are bundled up and tied with a bow, for your sugar plum 3.5 hours, $269 ($320 value)

December Monthly Retreat: December in Manhattan
“Embrace the holiday frenzy with our take on December in Manhattan – inspired by the timeless cocktail. A gentle full-body exfoliation prepares you to be smothered in a warm masque of antioxidant-rich Black Cherries, spicy Nutmeg and luscious Bourbon Vanilla. Unwind with a deeply penetrating massage, letting the fragrant masque nurture your skin and inspire your senses. A final rinse under the Vichy shower leaves you soft, sultry and satisfied, ready to sip a heart-melting Manhattan made with housemade bourbon and Madagascar vanilla-infused cherries.” (80-minute service for $195)

PAWliday pet food campaign

The PAWliday Pet Food Campaign is taking place through December 20. Photo: DaisyCares

Since 2009, DaisyCares has been helping feed pets of families in need through a partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank. From now through Friday December 20, 2019, DaisyCares is hosting the “PAWliday Pet Food Campaign.” Five years ago, DaisyCares was only serving about 25,000 pets and 10,000 families. Now, DaisyCares serves over 76,000 pets and 29,000 families annually. (San Antonio Food Bank, 2019)

With the holidays fast approaching, DaisyCares is experiencing a higher than normal request for pet food. Now more than ever before, families are faced with tough decisions between putting food on the table or in the bowls of their pets. Programs like DaisyCares help ensure that pets receive the nourishment they need and stay in their family’s home where they belong. Along with food items, DaisyCares is also in need of supplies like new toys/accessories, potty pads and cat litter. Food drop off sites are located throughout the city and include Alamo Heights Pet Clinic, Amigo Animal Hospital and Babcock Hills Veterinary Hospital. A full list of these sites can be found online.

DaisyCares is a 501c3 non-profit organization that helps people care for animals by providing pet food, veterinary care, and animal welfare education to the community. These services help over 76,000 pets and 29,000 pet owners annually.

Pearl announces new pop-up: Nave Coyote

Nave Coyote will temporarily take over the Diehlman Building at the Pearl as the new pop-up. Photo: Nave Coyote, used with permission.

Pearl is excited to present Nave Coyote, the third pop-up in the Diehlman Building. As the brainchild of designers Peter Glassford and Isabel Moncada, Nave Coyote will showcase a compilation of hand-selected contemporary designs from Guadalajara, Mexico, Moncada’s hometown. Glassford and Moncada curated a vibrant collection of fashion, jewelry, leather goods, tabletop designs, furniture and lighting items that vary from practical to extravagant. This showcase will introduce San Antonio to the booming contemporary design scene in Mexico.  (Pearl, 2019)

Designers Peter Glassford and Isabel Moncada kick-started their careers in 1990 after falling in love with the talent they found in Mexico. The duo formed Glassford Moncada in 2016, a design alliance and workshop in Guadalajara with a Tex-Mex perspective. Their pop up in the Diehlman Building will have items that were exclusively selected for the Pearl and will be available for a limited time; from Friday November 29 through Monday January 6. Business hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10a.m. to 6p.m.

Diehlman Building
200 E. Grayson Street, Suite 100
San Antonio, TX 78215

Show review: ‘Blue Man Group Speechless Tour’ at the Majestic Theatre

The Blue Man Group performs at the Majestic Theatre through Sunday November 24. Photo: Blue Man Group, used with permission.

Opening night pre-show energy at the Majestic Theatre last night was unmistakable as the audience awaited the return of the Blue Man Group to San Antonio, part of the North Park Lexus Broadway in San Antonio 2019-2020 season. Fans of all ages came to witness the multimedia sensation made up of the blue tinted, wide eyed men who have delighted people worldwide without uttering a single word. Tickets start at $40.

The ‘Blue Man Group Speechless Tour’ features new and original compositions, acts and instruments alongside iconic Blue Man Group moments based in joy, art, music, laughter and escapist absurdity. It is the same blue but the rest is new at this interactive experience perfect for the whole family. The Blue Man characters embark on a fresh journey of discovery on this all-new tour, the result of more than 27 years spent observing humanity. The tour features material that fosters communal moments, continues the evolution of tube-based instruments to support all new music and includes large-scale audience participation. Blue Man Group is the global entertainment phenomenon, known for its award-winning theatrical productions, iconic characters and multiple creative explorations. The performances are euphoric celebrations of human connection through art, music, comedy and non-verbal communication.

The Blue Man Group is universally appealing to a broad range of age groups and cultural backgrounds as evident by last night’s make up of the audience. Without giving too much away, this is a one of a kind show and must be experienced with fresh eyes not knowing what to expect. The often heart pounding music, percussions and a guitar, is loud but not as loud as in previous productions and there are plenty of bright and flashing lights. Audience participation segments include the blue men walking among the audience while they appear on screens and three audience members appear in skits. As always, the shaming of late-comers draws the most laughter. The combination of comedy, music and technology with some science lessons snuck in makes for a show the entire family can enjoy. It has a rock concert vibe that ends in a party like celebration.

There are only three more chances to catch this electrifying show. It plays until Sunday.

Saturday November 23 at 8p.m.
Sunday November 24 at 2p.m. and 7:30p.m.

This is an hour and a half show with no intermission.

‘Elf The Musical’ opens this Friday at The Public Theater

James R. Welch as Buddy the Elf in The Public Theater’s production of ‘Elf The Musical.’ It opens this Friday November 22. Photo: Siggi Ragnar, used with permission.

Opening at The Public Theater of San Antonio this week just in time for the holiday season is ‘Elf The Musical.’ It opens on Friday November 22 and will run through Sunday December 22 in the Russell Hill Rogers Auditorium. Buddy the Elf embarks on a journey to discover his true identity and is determined to win over his new family. ‘Elf The Musical’ is the modern day holiday classic that reminds us that the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is by singing loud for all to hear. Tickets are available online and at the box office by calling (210) 733-7258. Prices are $45 for adults, $35 for military members with ID, $25 for seniors age 60 and older and students with ID and $20 for children aged 12 and under. Group rates are available for groups of ten or more. Additional ticket services fees may apply. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7:30p.m. and Sunday at 2p.m. On opening night, there will be a special reception following the performance. (The Public Theater of San Antonio, 2019)

‘Elf The Musical’ is based on the New Line Cinema film by David Berenbaum with a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin. It is the story of William “Buddy” Hobbs, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa Claus’ bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. After discovering the baby, Santa and his elves decide to raise the child as an elf. Years later, Buddy finds out that he is actually human and, with Santa’s approval, goes to New York City in search of his father, Walter Hobbs. Faced with the harsh reality that Walter is on the naughty list and that his son Michael does not even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his birth family and help New York City remember the true meaning of Christmas. Cast includes James R. Welch as Buddy, Brandon R. Mace as Walter Hobbs, Pamela Sharkey as Emily Hobbs, Mariel Ardila as Jovie, Chip Wood as Mr. Greenway, John Paul Tucker as Michael Hobbs and Robert Moritz as Santa Claus.

The Public Theater of San Antonio
800 W. Ashby Place
San Antonio, TX 78212
(210) 733-7258

Alamo Heights’ annual holiday parade and Fun Run this Saturday

Alamo Heights will have its annual holiday parade this Saturday November 23. Photo: Google

Grande Communications is an award-winning locally based broadband communications company offering internet, TV and phone services. This weekend they are once again sponsoring the Alamo Heights Chamber of Commerce’s 42nd annual Holiday Parade set for Saturday November 23. New to this year, the parade is changing routes and will feature a Fun Run. Both the Parade and Fun Run will begin at Alamo Heights High School, proceed across Broadway Street along Castano Avenue and end at the intersection of Alamo Heights Boulevard and Argo Avenue. (Alamo Heights Chamber of Commerce, 2019)

The Holiday Parade and Fun Run will bring together neighbors in the community for the city’s biggest annual get-together to help raise funds for the Elf Louise Christmas Project, a nonprofit charity that brings Christmas to children in need. This event features a scenic .9-Mile course with holiday cookie aid stations, water stations, a champagne first aid station and a holiday party at the end that would make Santa proud. Activities at the kid-friendly party following the Parade and Fun Run will include a Moon Bounce, music, food and more. Grande is the host of the after-Parade party and will be cooking up barbeque treats. Everyone is welcome to the after-party in the parking lot of the Alamo Heights Pool.

Several local companies and organizations across the city will be participating in the parade with their own floats. Last year’s parade held a crowd of over 1,500 and showcased 40 floats and other entrants. Previous parade participants have included several Girl Scout Troops, Girls on the Run, and the 2019 Fiesta Queen. Community members are encouraged to register for the Fun Run and attend the celebration following the parade. For more information and to register, please visit the Alamo Heights Chamber of Commerce online.

The Fun Run will start at 5:30p.m. and will be followed immediately by the parade. The starting point will be at the Alamo Heights High School (6900 Broadway St.) parking lot at the corner of E Castano Avenue and Broadway Street, and it ends at the intersection of Alamo Height Boulevard and Argo Avenue. The after-parade party will be in the parking lot of the Alamo Heights Pool. Registration is now open for the run.


San Antonio Food Bank helping veterans this holiday season

Photo: Google

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In the United States, food insecurity affects one in nine people. Food insecurity is a social determinant of health, which are conditions in people’s environment that can affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. One in five households served by a local food bank has at least one member who has served in the U.S. military. To make an impact, the San Antonio Food Bank; Humana, a leading health and well-being company; and Conviva Care Centers have partnered on a food and fund drive benefitting military veterans from Veterans Day, November 11 through December 7, 2019. (San Antonio Food Bank, 2019)

As part of the “March Out Hunger” campaign, non-perishable food will be collected at locations throughout San Antonio, including: the Humana neighborhood location (950 S. General McMullen), the Humana office, and five Conviva Care Center locations. In addition to food donations, members of the community can provide monetary donations. Every $10 donation helps the San Antonio Food Bank provide 70 meals and can be done online.

The community is also invited to participate in a Ruck March at the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon during the 5K on Saturday, December 7 at 7:30a.m. In the military, soldiers carry a heavily-loaded rucksack, similar to a backpack, over a long distance. To bring awareness to food insecurity among our military and veteran community, participants will carry packs filled with non-perishable food donations and march the 5K route, delivering the food to the San Antonio Food Bank at the finish line. Those interested in marching should email Humana.

Donation stations:
Humana neighborhood location, 950 S. General McMullen, San Antonio, TX
Humana office, 8119 Datapoint Dr., San Antonio
Conviva – Guadalupe Care Center, 1314 Guadalupe St., Ste. 105, San Antonio
Conviva – DeLeon Care Center, 9727 Poteet Jourdanton Fwy., Ste. 108, San Antonio
Conviva – Greco Care Center, 4360 Greco Drive, San Antonio
Conviva – Legacy Place Care Center, 18414 US-281 North, Ste. 104, San Antonio
Conviva – Live Oak Care Center, 12602 Toepperwein Road, Ste. 100, San Antonio


Thanksgiving specials from Bakery Lorraine and La Panaderia

La Panaderia’s Tequila Apple Pie Croissants. Photo: La Panaderia, used with permission.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Bakery Lorraine and La Panadería are making it easier than ever to make dessert the star of the big day with delicious pies and croissants for sale. (Bakery Lorraine, La Panadería, 2019)

Bakery Lorraine will have Thanksgiving pies available for order at all of their locations across the city and in Austin. Pies can be purchased for $26 each and customers are able to place orders now through Sunday, November 24. Pick up day will be Wednesday, November 27, the day before Thanksgiving and pick up time will vary based on location. There will be additional pies for sale that Wednesday on a first come first serve basis. Orders can be placed on the Bakery Lorraine website under the “store” tab. From there, customers can set their preferred pick up time and location.

  • Pie flavors include:
    • Roasted In-House Pumpkin Pie
    • Dutch Apple Pie
    • Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie
    • Apple Cranberry with Christmas Spice

La Panaderia is serving up their scrumptious Tequila Apple Pie Croissant this Thanksgiving. The unique pastry is made with a double baking technique and filled with caramelized apples and topped with a sweet crumble. The Tequila Apple Pie Croissant is a spin on the classic American dessert and a delicious blend of cultures.