Alternative ways…by LIZ KOCH – Special to the Sentinel
Traditional medical treatment for scoliosis may recommend close observation (possibly an X-ray every three months), drugs, back braces or permanent fusion of specific vertebra.
So does scoliosis call for surgery? Scoliosis describes the lateral twisting and torquing curves of the thoracic and cervical spine. Studies show that diet (especially enzyme deficiency) may play a role. Connective tissue disease, muscular imbalances, excessive radiation exposure, and family dynamics are other possible stressors.
The Western medical model suggests that left unchecked, scoliosis might eventually curve the spine so severely that it traps the nerves, restricting lung volume and causing congenital heart failure.
Believing fusion as the only means of stopping scoliosis, parents and adolescents often opt for surgery. Whether they are motivated by fear or simply not enough information to make an informed choice, permanent fusing of the spine is an irreversible procedure that vitally affects the child’s well-being. A fused spine limits subtle range of motion and flexibility, and 10 to 20 years later can create a whole new set of problems.
Scoliosis does have a physical pattern that needs to be addressed, better yet avoided. Getting the heavy packs off young kids’ backs can go a long way to help relieve skeletal stress. Carrying a heavy load on one shoulder or too low on a growing spine creates muscular imbalances that cause spiral-like patterns.
But like all language of the body, scoliosis also has a powerful emotional component. The iliopsoas muscle, responsible for torquing the spine, is part of the instinctive flee or fight survival mechanism. As part of the fear reflex, the psoas instinctively contracts whenever we feel afraid.
Rather than surgical straightening, unraveling spinal tension and scoliosis, like untying a knot, only happens when a child feels safe to soften defense systems and release and resolve the tension.
Scoliosis is intimately intertwined with a child’s self-esteem. When a young girl is told by insensitive doctors that they can straighten her out, it does not address the deeper core issues surrounding the physical manifestation being expressed in her body.
There are many alternatives to surgery that can bring structural integrity, increased awareness, emotional stability and offer children a positive experience of being in their body.
Gentle osteopathy and crania/sacral balancing address the need to create a stable foundation in the pelvis so the spine, rib cage, neck and head have support above and the legs and feet can receive the weight of gravity.
Other options include gentle, non-invasive myofacial body work; low- or no-force chiropractic care, Feldenkrais, Aston Patterning, Reiki and gentle forms of Structural Integration/Rolfing. Yoga, aikido and other tools of self-awareness aid in learning how to voluntarily release tension within the core of the body.
Unlike straightening the spine manually with a brace or surgically by fusing, unraveling the physical and emotional stresses that manifest as scoliosis stimulates the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Liz Koch, is a local author of “The Psoas Book” and the “Unraveling Scoliosis” CD. Original rticle Launched: 09/30/2002 3:00:00 AM PDT reprinted with permission from the Santa Cruz Sentinel