Updated: Apr 13

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

Gait assessment

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

Neurological assessment

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:

Mild: 10-30º

Moderate: 30-45º

Severe: >45º

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

  • painful menstruation

  • 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