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How has scoliosis treatment changed over the past 20 years?

Kathleen Porter
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

With the widespread acceptance of such practices as yoga in recent years, some people are finding relief through self-directed approaches, showing that less severe cases of scoliosis can often be managed without surgery. While the question is whether the scoliosis is structural or functional, these two aspects often overlap, affecting each other. Because people who develop scoliosis often exhibit a right/left imbalance, with a slightly-to-the-side-tilted pelvis, care can be taken to find out if one can consciously normalize the angle of the pelvis and equalize the distribution of weight through both sides. Even a slight sideways tilt of the sacral platform, on which the spine sits, can contribute to anomalies such as leg-length disparity, scoliosis and, of course, back pain.

One very helpful way to address this imbalance is to begin by examining oneself closely. Sitting on a chair in front of a mirror can be instructive. Does it appear that one side or the other is bearing more of the weight? Often, this becomes visible in shoulders being a different height, in the distance between shoulder and hip, or the head being a bit more to one side than the other. 

The following exercise should be practiced often. Begin by sitting on a flat surface with your feet flat on the floor. Lean forward slightly and "walk" your sit bones (ischial tuberosities) one at a time, out behind you, so that the floor of the pelvis is wide and the pubic bone (pubis symphisis) is aiming down into the seat. Push your feet, one at a time into the floor, as your body moves to the opposite side. Let your feet be the "engine" that drives this car. Now imagine a small shelf at shoulder height to each side of you, and as you push off with your left foot, your right elbow is lifted by a string and gently placed up on the shelf to your right. This will lengthen out and open up the spine on that side of your torso. Now push off with your right food and drive the left elbow up onto the shelf to the side of your left shoulder. You should feel a delicious, opening stretch on that side as well. This is a great way to open the sides of the spine. Do it at your desk or even while stopped at a red light. The point is to do slowly and do it often.

Finally, when you stop, see if you can equalize the amount of weight that lands on each sit bone, so that the angle of the sacral platform is able to support a more fully elongated spine on both sides. There's lots more, but this is a good start!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.