During September of 2019 I ran a huge giveaway of scoliosis resource products on Instagram called Scoli September. I ended up sending 43 packages filled with scoliosis books, journals, workout videos, teaching videos, and swag out around the world. It was a lot of fun to be the scoli Santa.
The scoli treat packages were sent to 15 states in the USA and 14 different countries around the world ranging from India, to the Netherlands, to the UK, to Australia, to Singapore. I spent a lot of time writing loving notes of encouragement to these scoliosis warriors and filling out customs papers to ship them around the world.
To win these packages people had to interact with different scoliosis topics each week. One week we had three true/false questions people had to answer. Here they are:
- Scoliosis never progresses after your done growing. False!
- Boys don’t get scoliosis. False!
- Orthodontics and scoliosis can be correlated. True!
There is so much misinformation in the scoli community world-wide, and it was pretty interesting how many people answered the questions incorrectly.
I don’t think you can make peace with your scoliosis and treat it correctly until you know the truth about it—and there are millions of people around the world that don’t know the different truths about scoliosis.
One question I didn’t ask during Scoli September, but could have is, “is there a cure for scoliosis?” I am asked this question all the time, so as a little extension of Scoli September I’m going to shed some much-needed light on that question.
Understandably, people want an easy fix for their diagnosis—a pill, a short physical therapy treatment, a surgery. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for scoliosis. There is no cure for scoli.
Most people’s scoliosis has an unknown cause or causes. Now, everything in life has a cause, but because scoli can originate from so many different pathologies and origins, there typically isn’t an obvious single cause. Thus there isn’t an easy “fix” for scoli.
In my book Analyzing Scoliosis I list over 50 different diagnosis that can lead to scoliosis. That means someone can end up with a sideways curve over 10 degrees in a whole lot of different ways. If you don’t know the cause of your scoli, I’d encourage you to be a detective and figure out what was going on in the time of your life when your scoli started to develop. That information will help your doctors and practitioners treat the root cause for your scoli. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start your detective journey.
- How was your physical health?
- How was your diet?
- Were you getting enough sleep?
- How was your emotional health
- How was your family life?
- Did you have orthodontic braces on your teeth?
- Did you have an injury?
- What hobbies or extracurricular activities were you doing and how often?
- Does anyone in your immediate or extended family have scoliosis?
- When did you go through puberty?
Be sure to write down the answers and share the results with your doctors and movement practitioners. Something you say may lead them to an answer or new idea.
That being said, once the scoli has developed, fascial and muscular changes occur—and those need to be addressed in addition to the root cause. It’s not necessarily that fascial and muscular changes started the scoli, but once the scoli started, fascial and muscular changes happened. Changes to bone can also occur as a result of scoliosis. For example, the rib bones usually start to morph and change shape slightly.
Once someone has scoliosis the goal is to restack the body up as straight as possible. Movement therapy, like the Pilates I practice at Spiral Spine Pilates Studio, and bracing are considered conservative, non-surgical therapies for scoli. I know many people around the world, myself included, who have decreased their curvatures and lessened their pain using these therapies. While these don’t cure the scoli, quality of life can improve dramatically.
Scoliosis spinal fusion surgery is also a treatment for scoli and also attempts to stack the spine in a permanently “straight” position. Now, remember that because we don’t know the root cause of most scoli cases, the surgery doesn’t treat the cause of the scoliosis. Therefore, surgery doesn’t cure scoliosis, it simply treats a symptom of the original cause, a side bending, rotating spine.
When surgery takes place you trade a mobile, twisted spine for an almost straight, non-mobile spine. You’ve also created a ton of scar tissue in the body that you now must deal with. While I understand that there is a time and place for almost everything under the sun, I think too many people are looking for a quick “cure” for scoliosis by doing surgery.
While it may make you more upright, surgery hasn’t “cured” you. You still have the twisting fascia, rib rotation, and a sideways bend. Now that a large part of your spine is immobilized you’ll have to work even harder to address the muscular and fascial changes caused by scoli.
After working on my scoli and those of scoli clients all over the world for well over a decade, my conclusion is: the “cure” for scoliosis is that you must own your scoliosis. You need to find the root cause and address it. You also need to know what direction your spine twists and what exercises and other therapies help it to untwist.
A scoliometer (iTunes, Android) is my favorite tool in my toolkit for helping people with their scoli because it can give immediate feedback as to which therapies help and hurt your body. Since it measures rotation, a decrease in the scoliometer measurement correlates positively with therapies that help your body while an increase in measurement correlates with exercises that your spine doesn’t like.
If you’re interested in starting the process to own your scoli here are my suggestions:
- Check out these scoliosis resources
- Watch the Starting Point Series videos
- Come to a Scoliosis Intensive workshop
You need to know know that there isn’t a “cure” for scoliosis. Instead, aim at owning your scoliosis and being pain free. No one else is going to do it for you.