What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is from the ancient Greek, ‘Skoliosis’, which means “a bending”.
It is the medical diagnosis given to the curvature of the spine, usually into an “S” or a “C” shaped curvature. Medically the cause is unknown, although it is associated with other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis and muscle spasms. There is also a genetic risk factor for those with other affected family members.
In some, the curvature of the spine may be minimal, and may stabilise. In others, the degree of curvature can become more severe (measured by the two degrees of flexion measured as a deviation from the straight spinal column), and be ‘unstable’, progressively becoming worse over time.
The only allopathic treatments that are available for Scoliosis, are physical interventions - such as ‘bracing’ or surgery, with the treatment provided depending upon the severity and stability of the condition for each individual.
Bracing uses an external structure to support the spine during growth, whereas surgery is the internal application of stabilising metal rods which are drilled into the spine itself (see image below: before and after surgical intervention).
Physical examination will include
looking for signs of other abnormalities or causes associated with a spinal curvature
Adams forward bend test
a preliminary test often used in schools. Adopting the ‘dive’ position, provides a visual aspect of the prominent line of the spine and height of the posterior ribcage can be assessed
skin assessment for ‘cafe au last spots’ - indicating neurofibromatosis
feet assessments for cavovarus deformity
abdominal reflexes & muscle tone for spacticity
to check coronal (front-back view) and lateral (side view), measuring kyphosis (excessive ‘humping’ of the back) and lordosis (excessive inward curvature in the lumbar region of the spine). Measurement of spinal deviation uses the ‘Cobb Angle’
for further investigation of the spinal chord
Most diagnoses occur in children & adolescents, between the ages of 10-20 years old.
As you will see as we discuss the main mind-body and emotional contributing factors (in terms of Meta Health), this is the optimal age whereby children begin to question the social constructs and inherited belief patterns that they have automatically picked up through their family or other social groups. Therefore, when we consider the age that scoliosis occurs, we can see how this correlates with issues and conflicts that are part of the social and personal development of an individual at this age range.
The Cobb Angle is the system originally used to measure the coronal plane in x-rays for the classification of scoliosis. It was subsequently adopted to also measure the sagittal plane.
Measured from a vertebral fracture (if in relation to a traumatic spinal fracture classification), or the optimally deviated vertebra (shown in the illustration as the blue vertebra), a line is drawn parallel to the superior endplate of one vertebrate above the vertebra trauma, and intersected with a line drawn parallel to the inferior endplate of the vertebra one level below the vertebra trauma.
Scoliosis severity is measured through the Cobb Angle:
The onset of scoliosis is usually between 10-20 years old.
It is more common in females than males.
It affects approximately 3% of the population.
It is divided into 3 categories:
65% Idiopathic: a condition developing after birth, with unknown cause and apparent spontaneous origin
15% Congenital: a condition present from birth, occurring in vitro: being due to toxic exposure, medication or chemical exposure, infection, or genetic or chromosomal issues
10% Secondary to Neuromuscular disease: a broad classification of diseases and ailments that impair the function of muscles, and/or their direct nervous system control
Secondary Symptoms & Complications
The deviation of the spinal column is associated with multiple symptoms and further complications, and may include varying degrees of the following:
an uneven musculature on both sides of the spine
slow or impaired nerve action
calcium deposits in the cartilage endplate
calcium deposits inside the disk itself
pain in the back, neck, shoulders and in the buttock region
rotation of the thoracic spine may present unilateral prominence of the rib
rotation of the thoracic spine may present unilateral prominence of the shoulder blade
overall imbalance and displacement of the pelvis, hips, arms or legs
altered appearance of the length of arms and legs
limited mobility - due to physical impairment or pain associated with movement
constipation - due to curvature affecting the stomach & intestinal function
respiratory (lung) and cardiac (heart) problems in severe cases of scoliosis
A Meta Health Approach
For me, one of the most beautiful aspects of Meta Health, is when we begin to recognise and to understand that the body is never broken - that it is always trying to find an intelligent answer to a much deeper conflict.
Meta Health provides a structure to that magical part of us that recognises that there is a deeper purpose, even in our most trying difficulties. That is not to undermine or belittle the difficulties that we are going through in our disease, or illness or our dysfunction. The experiences and pains we face are very real and have actual and physical consequences for us on many levels. But through those difficulties we may come to face the parts of ourselves, our lives and our beliefs which are the most difficult for us to face alone, but which will eventually bring us the truth and freedom our hearts and souls are searching for!
It is normal for us to think that our body is not functioning correctly, when the symptoms we are experiencing because of its adaptation are causing us pain, disease or illness. But Meta Health gives us a new language in which we can begin to look at and listen to the secret messages that our body is trying to tell us!
The truth is that we may not like to hear some of the things that we are being forced to face - but our biology is taking us to a point where we no longer can ignore the messages that our body is screaming out at us.
Far from being forced into having to take action, Meta Health gives us a new way of looking at the miraculous intelligence of our body - and beginning to understand and learn from its messages to us. If we embrace the process of lessons and learning that we may face, in itself that simple realisation that there is a purpose to our condition can be a very new and empowering way to approach our illness or our disease.
As well as looking at the underlying messages that our body is screaming at us to take a look at, we should also remember to honour how we are being made to ‘feel’ about what our body is doing, and how our disease or dysfunction is affecting us. Simply having such a condition may result in us having some emotional issues to work through, in relation to how our disease is making us feel! Emotional healing is a part of the deeper healing and transformation of mind and body.
Wondering why a certain common event might expresses itself differently in different people?
If this has opened up more questions than answers that you may be interested in pursuing further
Contact Deborah about further training in Meta Health.
Watch the 5 minute video (above) that explains how we all respond differently, based on our perceptions.
The Mind-Body Detective
The Muscular Skeletal System
The muscular-skeletal system provides us with both structure and stability.
It is our overall support mechanism, giving us our solid form.
It also does the job of protecting our more vulnerable softer tissues and organs.
In addition, it also provides us with the function of movement - as the skeletal system works in cohesion with the muscular system to assist movement both internally and externally.
It does this by either
allowing us to move ourselves within our environment - creating motion and progression forwards, through movement of the whole biological system, or
through moving aspects of the external environment, either towards us, or farther away from us
Both of these functions are the overall purpose of motion that the muscular and skeletal system are intricately involved in.
As a mind-body detective, it is our job to decipher the messages of the body, and to understand the deeper meaning in any dysfunction of the muscular-skeletal system, in relation to the impairment of the biological function and how that relates to our thinking, our beliefs and our deeper unconscious mind.
In Meta Health we know that all Muscular-Skeletal issues are associated with the cerebral medulla brain layer, which relates to issues of self-worth and self-value.
When in stress phase, the muscular-skeletal will experience a cellular degeneration, a reduction in cellular re-generation and a weakness in the overall function of the organ or tissue. In terms of scoliosis, this is when we see the muscles and skeletal structure in stress, and the progression of the curvature.
When in regeneration (healing) phase, the muscular-skeletal will return to a normal regeneration process and the vertebra will regain their strength.
It is very important to address the fundamental underlying emotional and ‘core value’ aspects of scoliosis AS SOON AS POSSIBLE once it is diagnosed, in order to reduce the time that an individual is in stress phase. This is because the curvature increases for the duration of time that the individual is in ‘stress’ - and that stress, as we will see below, will be systemic and will be affected by their social group and family - and the values of that group or family.
Therefore we can see, that in order to address the core conflicts presented through scoliosis and in order to maintain and complete the regeneration phase of the spine and vertebra, this may require the inclusion of the whole family, or at the least, include the main care-giver, in order to support the individual’s healing.
The spine is the main structural unit that allows the individual to stand up, and to move fluidly and respond to the environment through directing where our motion will go.
The spine is divided into several moving parts, the lumbar region, the thoracic region and the cervical region. Each of these plays a role in the support of the upright nature of the individual, but also are useful for more specific functional aspects. All of these should be considered when making any mind-body analysis.
For example, the lumbar spinal region is about core values that provide stability, either through issues that are about safety for us, including home, family and our sexuality. We may be working with values here that allow us to be rooted and stable in our interactions and movements through our social environment.
The thoracic spine allows us to change direction, to twist and face another direction, even if our feet, our root has been planted to take us forwards in one way, our thoracic spine allows us to turn away from that set direction. It allows a diverse range of movement that also allows us to bend forwards. It allows us to stand still, in one position, whilst turning to face other directions, which may be about ‘searching’ or ‘looking for’ another way forwards.
When we go to move forwards with motion, it is the thoracic spine which propels our weight forwards, whilst working in tandem with the lumbar spine, which is still required to keep us stable until we have moved in the direction our thoracic spine has pre-empted for us.
The thoracic spine also protects the thoracic cavity. Its protective quality is especially important for the heart and lungs (both of which are often physically affected if the scoliosis curvature exceeds >60º).
So in meta health, we would expect to see severe scoliosis connected to the mind-body and emotional issues of the heart and lungs, and therefore corresponding values attached to this.
Some examples of two cases that I will present as scenarios, or 'stories' that might be attached to the mind-body themes we could see in scoliosis, include a young man with a crisis of faith that extended to how might he redefine his core beliefs and express those within a new social group, and a young girl who felt unsupported in her family.
Our young man was beginning to question the ideology and the belief system of the church that he had grown up with and was asking questions which did not get answered to satisfy either his inner intellect or his emerging inner values.
However, the conflict became evident, as the church was a large part of his early years and beliefs that encompassed faith, morals and behaviours within a strict social environment. In addition, he felt that the faith that he was at odds with was massively important in terms of his mothers values - and created a huge divide between him and his main carer. This perceived conflict of values - both within his own beliefs and with his main parental support (his mother) were multiple conflicts that would weaken multiple vertebra and their supporting muscle structures.
There was a period of time that he felt angry towards his mother, arguing to defend his position constantly.
Particularly angry with what he perceived as her blind and illogical faith. Later he came to recognise that her faith was not a reflection of her logical mind, nor her love for him, but at the time it was a huge issue where he felt let down and unsupported. Neither by his carer, nor his own ability to stand up for himself.
He left the church and was searching for ‘another way’ - watching you tubers, and searching for other views and ideals that might resonate with his own values.
We can see that this conflict resulted in him feeling unsupported within his traditional social environment (of the church) and trying to search for or look for a ‘new’ place in society, or a new social group.
Feeling unsupported by his primary support/carer (his mother) and also feeling unable to request the support he needed from his mother
created a sense of vulnerability and weakness, not knowing where or how he could express his inner values.
Other obstacles to overcome included recreating his stance in relation to his existing social structure, finding a new way to move forwards on his now unique path, and searching for ways to express his own thoughts and beliefs.
There was a period of several years where he was learning how could he express his own core values, during which time he was not feeling good enough or strong enough to stand up for his own beliefs and values.
In our second stry, our young girl had a very different support conflict, which increasingly left her feeling unable to stand up for herself, or protect herself from the family she grew up within.
When working with these case studies the questions we ask will be around:
“Where did you not feel strong enough in yourself, your family or your social group, to follow the set or expected path in front of you? In addition, where did you not feel strong enough in yourself to deviate or change away from that path?”
“Where did you feel weak, or unable to protect matters of your heart?”
The young girl had experienced long-term devaluation as the only daughter in her family.
She watched her parents support and encourage her brother in all the activities that he desired. In contrast, she was put last, and her desires were considered less important than her brothers. In addition she was expected to cook and clean up after her brother (and often times her parents, who both worked), and act as a dutiful and obedient daughter/sister/female.
She was often angry at how she was treated, and felt that she was treated unfairly. Whenever she tried to stand up for herself, or defend or define her position, she was put down, and when her frustration became expressed as an emotional upset, or outburst, she was continually ‘put down’ by her family as her being “difficult”, or an “emotional girl”. She often heard her mother telling herself or others that “girls are difficult” or “girls are a pain” finishing with “give me a boy anyway!”
She felt that she was also continually compared as ‘not as good’ as her brother, which was profoundly heart-breaking to her. She also felt completely unsupported by her primary carer (her mother), whom she felt should have been able to understand her position - both as a mother and as a woman.
In addition, this ongoing family situation was an affront on her deeply held core values, as she fundamentally believed that her desires and needs were at least as important as her brothers! She questioned the family value that a “boy was more important” or “better” than a girl, and did not believe that a girl should inherently just be ‘good’ and ‘quiet’ and adopt the position of the subservient care-giver to the rest of her ‘superiors’, who seemed to be everyone else in the family!
Throughout her growing adolescence these conflicting values (between her own values of self-worth, and what it means to be a female) were conflicted with those of her family and were faced again and again in multiple daily situations, because as a minor, her family and social environment was an area that she could never escape.
The Mind-Body Solutions & Conclusions
When we are working with scoliosis, there is a significant difference to working with physical issues or medical diagnoses that affect only one or two of the vertebra, in that we are looking for an overriding issue that will be affecting the person systemically. Therefore, we may see multiple ‘values’ being implicated, or questioned, but they will be connected via a single issue of the heart, or the soul. Making scoliosis a deep core value conflict, that is affecting multiple values which combine to weaken how the individual can both ‘stand up’ for their own beliefs and values, and ‘move forwards’ or progress upon their own path, which may appear to be significantly different to the ‘orthodox’ or standard path they encounter in their existing primary social group(s).
It is also pertinent to add that other conditions, such as kyphosis or lordosis will have additional and different conflicts involved in them.
It is important to work with a qualified Meta Health practitioner, as through a correct analysis, you can get to the specific events and themes that are impacting the biological dysfunction.
They will also be able to work with you using tools and techniques to relieve and reduce the triggers and core conflicts, which may then, over time, decrease the stresses that cause the curvature.
Long-term prognosis for Scoliosis after Resolving Conflicts
We cannot provide a long-term protons is for Scoliosis, just as allopathic medicine cannot give any guarantee of long-term outcomes (even after surgery). Most often the condition and its symptoms are managed.
However, as mentioned before, when we consider the emotional, psychological and social aspects that a Meta Health approach to Scoliosis provides, we may find that a speedy response on this level, at the first sign of biological or physical change, may be an affective, non-surgical and holistic approach to addressing the Root Causes.
Doing so at the onset of the condition may be beneficial, as in Meta Health, we consider that the spinal curvature is considered to be active during something we call the ‘stress’ phase. This means that we would expect to see further deterioration and curvature for the continued duration that the individual, or child, continues to experience stresses and conflicts that they are unable to find a solution too (as demonstrated in the above case studies).
Working with a Meta Health Practitioner, and focusing on uncovering the root causes, and therefore the conflicted core values that are specific and unique to the individual suffering with Scoliosis, is a non-invasive, non-physical intervention that may be worth considering as part of an ongoing and wholistic approach to any healing plan. Along with addressing any past traumas, experiences or events that have contributed to the ongoing emotional and physiological conflicts, a trained practitioner can work with the individual child, or adolescent, along with a family orientated approach, that provides an overall awareness of the key issues that are causing stress, and helping to implement strategies that recognise when stress is occurring, and how to minimise it on a daily basis. They can also help to clear and heal past emotions and beliefs that may be keeping the individual from ‘moving on’ in their life.
It is interesting to note the difference solutions that our two case studies have implemented:
In the situation of the young man (case study 1), he has gone on to explore and to develop his own understanding of his individual strong core values. He now recognises these as being significantly different to those of many people in his social groups - no longer defined in terms of a spiritual belief system, but in a deeper understanding of his own values and beliefs on multiple levels.
He has grown through a period of years, and recognises that whilst he once did not feel strong enough to verbally express his inner opinions, for fear of how ‘different’ they were to his peers and indeed even to the majority of society, he is now a strong member of the debating team in his college, and often finds himself in the position of defending alien or unusual political or social views, in the face of greater opposition.
In this sense, we see that he has been on a journey to not only search out and find his own core values (albeit that they may be different to the greater mass of the population), but he has also had to find ways to explore how he might be able to stand up and express them to the wider social group. This he has explored and developed through his life at college. He has developed strategies that involve cognitive reason and highly intelligent functioning skills, which he has developed over the several years since he left his old social structure of the church.
He now expresses clear and powerful positions within his debates and hypothesis arguments that are informed by scientific and logical thinking that does not necessarily adopt or accept the ‘status quo’ of conventional thinking.
When we understand his deep learning and the development of these greater strengths as a public speaker and debtor, in relation to the Meta Health conflicts that his scoliosis also presented, we can see that the combined approach of the body as a whole (being the full expression of an individuals mind-body-spirit), is always searching for an intelligent solution (or solutions) to the conflict. This solution can be biological, cellular and functional, and it can also extend to be social and/or mental adaptations that allow the individual to explore non-biological solutions to the conflict. The body can fluctuate between adopting different solutions. For example, if the mental adaptation, or the social adaptation addresses the conflict, then the biology can come out of conflict and the tissue/organ adaptation (or biological change) and will no longer be required. At this point the healing can occur.
For our first case study, this young mans adaptation was mental and social, applying higher level cognitive reasoning supported by scientific study, he finds a social purpose and a social outlet for this through public debate, in a way which represents weaker, or under-represented groups or people in the wider society.
In the case of scoliosis, when the cause of the dysfunctional weakness is addressed, it is unlikely that the spine will re-straighten, but it is likely that the ‘weakness’ of the vertebra caused by the conflict stress will be addressed and reversed and we would expect to see the curvature deviation therefore halt and stabilise.
This means that the condition should not continue to cause pain or weakness. Currently, in this case study, his scoliosis is stable and he has no pain.
In the case of the young girl (case study 2) she has not found alternative solutions to her core conflicts. However, her social situation is now changed, as she no longer lives at home. This means that her stress is now much reduced proportional with the reduction in her daily interaction with family.
She has received medical intervention in the form of spinal surgery and metal rods which support her spine.
Occasionally she still has pain and movement of the spine. For this reason she is taking pain medications ongoing.
For me, as a practitioner, the difference between the two cases highlights the importance of addressing the underlying conflict which is connected to the root cause. For me, Meta Health is an essential component in being able to do this effectively. For whilst we can integrate surgical and allopathic methods in management of the condition, it has been my experience that we really can alleviate ongoing pain and degeneration by finding lasting solutions to the underlying core conflicts.
For the young girl, the core conflicts were not fully addressed, but were ‘lessened’ by removing herself from the social environment in which she was constantly ‘retriggered’ by external factors. Her conflict around being treated and valued equally - as a female, has not found a deep resolution. She may well retain ongoing emotional conflicts that are raised when she has contact with family members. Past hurts may still exist as part of that ‘wounded child’ that originally experienced them.
Full healing may only be possible when these old wounds are faced and addressed at a deeper level.
In comparison, for the young man, he has sought to adjust his inner landscape, and found ways to adapt to his original stress. By adapting his thinking and finding a supportive social purpose and outlet, he has potentially found a deeper and more resilient solution to his original stress. As a result, currently he has no pain and at 17, his spine has stabilised.
Lastly, I would like to share a final description, which I found when looking on the internet for physical fitness that support development of ‘core strength’.
I think this is a beautiful description to work with (whether from a physical or metaphysical perspective) whenever you may find yourself working with a case of scoliosis:
“Do you know what your core really is, and what it does?”
“The ability to produce force with respect to core stability, which is the ability to control the force we produce”
Ultimately, any questions around the muscular skeletal system will have this question at its centre…at its core these issues are about building greater strength and resilience in order to allow the individual organism, the individual person (including the complete unity of the mind, body and spiritual or emotional components of the person) to move forwards - both physically, and in the context of their own life and life-values.
For through defining our own beliefs and values, we come to know ourselves to a much greater degree. When we know ourselves and our relationship to the world, and the people around us, we are able to find ways of moving in and through our world. Expressing ourselves fully and clearly, standing up for ourselves and our individual right to be what and who we are, and to express ourselves without fear or retribution.
When we find the strength to do this, we are stronger and more resilient in our body (through our muscular-skeletal system itself) and in our mind, and our spirit.
This is what the muscular-skeletal system - and all of its issues and diseases - gifts to us.
Indeed, if we chose to listen to the language and the messages of our biology - we may discover that through our weaknesses, we are made strong.
If you would like to explore the possibility of a non-surgical, wholistic approach to scoliosis, you can arrange a free consultation with Deborah by emailing her through her website, or directly at deborah@themindbodydetective
By Deborah Wiggins-Hay