Scoliosis: A Case Study With Rolfing®

The images on the left were taken in April 2012, and the ones on the right in November 2012. Treatments were given once a week from May until August, by Lu Mueller-Kaul, our Certified Rolfer™. Other than these ten Rolfing® sessions the client received no other treatments. The client also took yoga classes once a week and stretched at home. Check out these great results!

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.

There are many types and causes of scoliosis, including:
Congenital scoliosis. Caused by a bone abnormality present at birth.
Neuromuscular scoliosis. A result of abnormal muscles or nerves. Frequently seen in people with spina bifida or cerebral palsy or in those with various conditions that are accompanied by, or result in, paralysis.

Degenerative scoliosis. This may result from traumatic (from an injury or illness) bone collapse, previous major back surgery, or osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
Idiopathic scoliosis. The most common type of scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis, has no specific identifiable cause. There are many theories, but none have been found to be conclusive. There is, however, strong evidence that idiopathic scoliosis is inherited.

 How is scoliosis treated?

Doctors may recommend bracing for adolescents whose bones are still maturing, and who have a spinal curvature between 25 to 40 degrees. This is done to halt the progression of the curve. A curve beyond 40 degrees is often considered for corrective surgery. The goal is to make sure the curve does not get worse, but surgery does not perfectly straighten the spine.

Are surgery or bracing my only options?

The above mentioned procedures are focused solely on reducing the progression of the deformity. Several forms of bodywork, such as Rolfing® Structural Integration, Deep Tissue Massage, and Cranialsacral Therapy can alleviate the symptoms associated with Scoliosis. Due to the elongated musculature on one side and the shortened musculature on the opposite side, back pain, shallow breathing, sciatica, headaches and insomnia are frequent issues that a person with scoliosis must contend with. Consequently, many alternative treatments have been used to help reduce the problems caused by excessive curvature of the spine.

How can Rolfing® Structural Integration help scoliosis symptoms?

Instead of using methods that “force” the body back into alignment but do nothing for pain, such as bracing or surgery, Structural Integration works with the body’s natural alignment. Lengthening through the soft tissues allows the body to restructure itself, coming back into positive relationship with gravity, returning to its natural, healthy, pain-free state.

Rolfing Structural Integration looks at the “big picture,” not just the spine, to see the imbalances in the body’s structure that lead to chronic pain.

In scoliosis sufferers, these can be things such as asymmetry in the alignment of shoulders, rib cage, pelvis, and legs. The older a person gets, the harder it is to reverse the effects of Scoliosis. Adults can change scoliotic patterns but their bodies change more slowly and differently than with youth.

Treatment during youth is the best opportunity to straighten bodies by changing the beginning patterns of scoliosis.


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