Straightening the line.
Modern medicine doesn’t treat people suffering from slight scoliosis*. The treatment for relieving the pain and preventing further deterioration can be found in the treatment combining the opening of the adhesion of the covering of the muscle and movement.
Many of the clients coming to me to the clinic who are complaining of back pain – lower, high, middle, with or without disc problems, with definitions such as chronic pain or tension, with or without sharp pain and stabbing, with or without the pain radiating down the leg or arm, with or without numbness or falling asleep of limbs, are actually suffering, without knowing it, from a kind of slight scoliosis. In some of the cases, even if the clients knew that they had scoliosis in childhood, they do not make the connection between that condition and the back pains they have today.
This series of articles is targeted to these people and to the parents of children and adolescents suffering from diagnosed scoliosis or those who they fear are suffering from lighter cases of scoliosis. These articles are intended to explain what can be done in order to relieve their suffering and to shed light on a field that usually isn’t given enough attention.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis, as its name says, comes from Greek: scoliosis meaning "crooked", in another words, when the spinal column doesn’t look like a straight vertical line but rather at some point leans to one side. There is also a form of scoliosis where the spinal column leans to the sides in a couple of places along its length. But it should be remembered that it can also be scoliosis when the spinal column doesn’t lean to the sides. This happens when the vertebrae twist a bit to the right and then to the left and again to the right and to the left, so that the whole spinal column looks like a straight line that is made up of conflicting turns.
Almost every kind of scoliosis has an element of twisting, but when the spinal column is set in such a way that the leaning to the sides is almost not visible, it is then that the implications of the scoliosis are critical. In this twisted state, a great deal of tension is created all along the spinal column.
This kind of scoliosis is called twisted scoliosis and it is more difficult to measure, because measuring the turn is more complicated than measuring the amount of deviation to the left or right. Another important element in the definition of scoliosis is the existence of a scoliotic contraction: the place where there is a chronic contraction that can not be released.
The final element for diagnosing scoliosis is the scoliotic weakness on the other side of the spinal column. Exactly across from the scoliotic contraction, on the other side of the body, there is a very strong weakness that contributes to the bending of the spinal column. The scoliotic weakness can be treated only partially by exercising or by electric stimuli to the muscle (a long and tiring treatment).
How common is Scoliosis?
It is hard to say how common scoliosis is because most of those suffering from slight scoliosis are not aware of it. They are aware, however, of the muscle tension they feel in their bodies and of the back pain. Are muscle tensions and back pain common? Yes they are, very much so!
I’m not sure how it was in the past, but today in almost every household there are children who suffer from a slight case of scoliosis. Slight and medium scoliosis flare up usually during ages of rapid growth (11-15), during which time the structural imbalance of the body is more pronounced. The emotional challenges that adolescence go through make their contribution to this imbalance, and can sometimes increase the scoliosis. It should be pointed out that the origin of scoliosis is not completely clear since it hasn’t been researched long enough and there is still much to do in this field.
Modern medicine intervenes only in those cases where scoliosis constitutes a risk to life or where the extreme bending of the spinal column interferes with bodily functions or a serious aesthetic flaw. In such cases, medicine offers operations that completely straighten the spinal column by putting in a bar along its entire length or by putting in restraints that connect the sides of the vertebra. Both of these operations are very difficult and painful, followed by a painful convalescent period as well.
There are also the different kinds of corsets or girdles worn in order to hold the wearer straight by exterior support and without under-going an operation. This kind of support, without exercise to strengthen the muscles, isn’t always beneficial, to say the least. However, with the right combination of exercise it can be a relatively positive way to prevent aggravating the situation.
A number of truths not so well known about slight scoliosis:
- Scoliosis can be bothersome and painful even if it is considered to be very slight. On the other hand, scoliosis can be very serious but without pain. The reason for this is found in the degree of elasticity or flexibility and the relaxation of the muscles that differ from body to body.
- Scoliosis doesn’t disappear with time. Even if you haven’t felt its presence over the years, as you grow older (age 50 and over, but very individual) the influence of scoliosis may be felt and become bothersome, which is why it is important and advisable to treat scoliosis as soon as it is diagnosed at a young age, in order to lessen its impact and to prevent it from worsening over the years.
- There are elements of scoliosis that cannot be changed without an operation. In other words, the scoliotic contraction that chronically pulls the vertebra towards it cannot be changed. The muscle tension cannot be relaxed without using penetrating measures to stop its pull.
However, together with this, the chronic scoliotic contraction creates an adhesion in the covering of the muscle (fascia) in its surroundings. When the muscle contracts and shortens, the fascia, that cannot contract like the muscle itself, folds itself, fold on fold, like a curtain, in order to match the length of the muscle. Because the folds do not stretch back again like new, since the muscle never relaxes completely, they stick together and become a thicker layer of fascia.
This phenomena can be lessened to a minimum by using the correct treatment, not only to stop the deterioration and the seriousness of the degree of the curvature but also to straighten it a bit.
But what is the correct treatment? It is treatment that opens the adhesion of the fascia. It is recommended to begin this treatment as close to the diagnosis of scoliosis as possible (particularly when dealing with adolescence).
This treatment is done according to the Ida Rolf`s Structural Integration method and other techniques derived from it like the Bahat Method, Heller Work, Rebalancing and Anatomy Trains.
Opening the adhesion of the fascia is not enough in itself. The correct treatment has to combine the facet of movement that the client does himself in order to succeed in the process. Practice of the movement is intended to correct and lessen the degree of the scoliosis, keeping the new structural balance that was created during treatment and preventing deterioration of the situation.
It is true that we are talking about a process and not magic that occurs over night. But the results of the movement are very meaningful to those suffering from scoliosis by relieving the pain and by their ability to unite with the feeling of existence resting in their bodies, as I’ll show in the following article that describes the treatment of Naama.
* The author treats scoliosis using the Paula Method, Rolf`s Structural Integration and theTrager Approuch, that form the background for the development of the Bahat Method - Touch and Movement Therapy.