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Reconstucting a defective back

I have scoliosis.

It’s not that bad really, in the range of 15-20 degrees, but it causes me massive amounts of pain if I’m not careful. And back pain is nothing to sneeze at – there are days when I can’t get out of bed for hours because it has rendered every movement painful.

This condition isn’t really a surprise; scoliosis runs in my family. Have a cousin who had to wear a brace for years to correct her spine, so I consider myself lucky. Those braces all look like portable racks to me.

The evolution of my condition was really slow. I was first diagnosed with a 3 degree curve in middle school by a school nurse and subsequent doctors visit. I pretty much forgot about it until I started waking up with pain and went back to the doctor about a decade later. They sent me off for X-rays and a spinal consult.

Can I just say that modern medicine knows nothing about backs? The spinal consult confirmed that I had an 18 degree curve. The solution? Surgery fixing my spine to a metal rod, or aerobic exercize every day. I’m not sure how the exercize was supposed to strengthen my muscles in the right way to straighten my spine, but that’s what he recommended. And there was no way in hell I was going to have such a risky surgery. So I suffered.

Until, that is, I found another way. I’ve been seeing a therapist for Postural Reconstruction off and on for the last two years.* In this time, I have started standing taller, my shoulders no longer hunch, and the pain is mostly gone. All this without the risk of surgery.

Postural Reconstruction is really simple, and yet horribly complicated. The idea is that you use muscles to work against one another so that they fix whatever is going wrong. They end up over-extending and then relax back into the position they’re supposed to be in, rather than the one they’ve come to call home over the years. I have never sweat so much from sitting as I have in one of these sessions. I think my therapist believes that twisting me into new pretzel positions is good for me somehow.

Last week, I added the Feldenkrais method to my therapy suite. This is supposed to teach me new ways to approach the world and new methods of movement to keep those old home positions from returning. We’ll see how that goes. After my first session, I felt amazingly loose and tall for 3 days. Reverting to the old habits was inevitable, it was only one session, and yet painful. It’s sad to feel the old habits coming back and know that the pain will return with them.

I’m planning to post on milestones along the way. We’ll see what they are when I get there, I guess.

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*It’s been off mostly due to stupid insurance rules about only allowing western medicine. Paying for things that should be covered by insurance makes me crazy.

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.


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