Have you recently been diagnosed with scoliosis and are unsure what you need to do? Or, has your child recently been diagnosed and you feel overwhelmed with contraindicating information? Did your doctor tell you your scoli was too small to do anything about or that you only have one option because your curve is too large? You can always do something for your scoli no matter your age or curve size, and you always have options (even if your doctor says your only option is surgery). As someone who specializes in working with recently diagnosed clients of all ages and curve sizes, let me help you start your journey with three steps.
Step 1: Educate Yourself
Scoliosis is confusing. Do you have idiopathic, functional, or congenital scoli? Do you even know what the differences are? What exactly is a Cobb angle? Is a scoliometer reading the same as a Cobb angle? Knowledge is power. In this case, you need enough knowledge to make informed decisions. I recommend purchasing a copy of Erin Myers’ I Have Scoliosis; Now What? and working your way through the book. You’ll want to pay special attention to any chapters that pertain to your doctor’s orders. If your doctor told you to “watch and wait,” feel free to start at the beginning. If your doctor advised you to begin back bracing or schedule fusion surgery, you’ll want to read those chapters first. There’s about 500 citations in the book if you want some guidance on further research, too!
Step 2: Gather Information
Idiopathic Scoliosis literally means “we don’t know why this lateral curve of the spine exists.” If you don’t know what caused your scoliosis, you need to try to find out. Research from 2017 showed that genetics, nutrients, hormones, and the nervous system all play a role in developing adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. So, if you’ve just been diagnosed with scoli and don’t know what is going on inside your body, it’s massively important to find out.
In chapter 13 of I Have Scoliosis; Now What? there are almost 350 references on what research has found as are roots of idiopathic scoliosis. There are many nutrients like vitamin D, selenium, melatonin, B vitamins, zinc, manganese, iron, and omega 3, to name a few, are not balanced in people with scoliosis. In that chapter, research is cited and labs to be run are suggested.
I recommend Ben Lynch’s StrateGene Report to kick start your journey as well. (This is what I did to start my own journey of understanding my scoli from the inside out.) You’ll need to have raw data from either 23andMe or AncestryDNA to upload; it should only take a handful of minutes for StrateGene’s software to populate your report, then it’s time to start your research!
You’ll want to take your report to a trusted functional medicine practitioner (FMP) or doctor. They can analyze it and run labs based off of your results and the research cited in chapter 13 of I Have Scoliosis; Now What?. Once you get the results you’ll be able to take action.
Step 3: Start Caring for Your Scoli Body
You need to care for your scoliotic body, no matter if you have pain or not (I prefer scoliosis care over scoliosis treatment as it helps emphasize this will be a life-long journey). That means finding a team of practitioners to help you, which is what we at Spiral Spine call a Scoli Dream Team. At Spiral Spine Pilates, we’re here to help you figure out the movement piece of the puzzle; we’re all certified Pilates instructors who specialize in assessing and treating scoliosis, so we’d love to be part of your team. We teach both in-studio and virtually, so no matter where you are, we can help! If you want to know what scoliosis care looks like at Spiral Spine, you can read more here.
However, you’re probably going to need more than us and your medical team (doctors, FMPs, brace makers, etc.) to help you achieve your goals. Many Spiral Spine clients, and myself included see manual therapists. I see a neuro-muscular massage therapist every other week. I’ve had clients regularly use myofascial massage, acupuncture, and manual physical therapists to find relief from pain and decrease their scoli curves and rotations. I recommend selecting a one movement practitioner and one manual therapist to begin. It’s best to try new things slowly to see how your body reacts rather than scheduling everything in the span of two weeks, which Erin talks about in chapter 5 of I Have Scoliosis; Now What?. If this task seems daunting and you’d like help, book a lesson with us for guidance on your first steps!
Jennifer Stark is a scoliosis instructor at Spiral Spine Pilates, a Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher, a Certified Integrated Movement Specialist, and a Balanced Body trained Pilates Instructor who has scoli and specializes in caring for those with scoliosis.