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Understanding Scoliosis - Part 1: A Mind Body Detective Approach

Scoliosis - A Mind Body Detective Approach
Scoliosis - A Mind Body Detective Approach

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

  • X-Rays: 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’

  • MRI: 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

Mind Body Detective Scoliosis Cobb Angle
Measurment of the cobb angle and an X-Ray indicate a severe spinal deviation

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

Exploring A Mind Body Detective Approach

For me, one of the most beautiful aspects of using the MBD processes and protocols, 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 an MBD approach to 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, Mind Body Detective approaches give 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.

Why do we respond differently and uniquely?

Wondering why a certain common event might expresses itself differently in different people?

If this approach has opened up more questions than answers that you may be interested in pursuing further, please do contact the Mind Body Detective and ask Deborah about further training in the Mind Body Detective protocols, or exploring your own health through a MBD approach.

Watch this 5 minute video that explains how we all respond differently, based on our perceptions.

In Part 2 we will look further in-depth at the MBD view of Scoliosis and see how the themes and perceptions of two case studies may have shaped the development of their scoliosis.

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