I’ve always had this belief that there is always more than one solution to a problem. Even if those answers are hard to find, they are out there if you only look.
I don’t like labels, although I will never shy away from my difficulties. They are all a part of me. My anxiety, my depression, my eating disorder, my problem with gluten. They have all made me a stronger person because of what I have been through, and for that I wouldn’t change anything. Each of my difficulties has given me such a different perspective on life, and I love that. I love that I see things so differently. That I see the shades of grey in-between the black and white. That I can see that life is limitless. But, one of the things I struggle with has given me so much insight it’s crazy, and helped me to believe in myself and know to always listen to my heart.
When I was eleven years old I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Before I was diagnosed I had never even heard that word before. I had no clue what it was, but boy did I learn quick. The day I was diagnosed I was sent immediately for x-rays and I will never forget seeing my spine for the first time. One big “S”. I couldn’t believe that was even my spine! I don’t remember what the degrees were at the time, but the doctors basically told my mom that my scoliosis just had to be monitored at that point, and that was it. A few months later I went for one follow up, and then basically put it out of my mind. It didn’t stop me from anything or impact my life in any way. I danced, swam, rollerbladed, rode my bike, etc… It was just something I had and that was that.
When I was thirteen, my mother decided to take me to an Orthopedic doctor. I couldn’t understand why, but she said that it had been a few years and we should have my spine looked at again. Like I said, my scoliosis never bothered me, and I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe they’ll x-ray my back and my spine will be straight!” Wishful thinking. What I experienced at the Orthopedic doctor’s office that day would change my life forever, and sort of send me on a bad path for a long time.
The Orthopedic doctor had me go for x-rays and then had my mom and I wait while they checked the results. I remember the doctor coming in and telling my mother it was bad. So bad in fact (and unfortunately these next words would play like an endless loop in my head for years), that if I didn’t have surgery immediately I would die! He looked at me and said he couldn’t even understand how I was breathing and there were no ifs, ands, or buts. I need the surgery.
First off, no thirteen year old wants to be told they are going to die. Secondly, I was struggling big time with my anxiety at this point and time, so you can only imagine how that set me off. And thirdly, and this was the part that made no sense to me, my scoliosis had never caused me any problems! I could breathe. I could do whatever I wanted. How could I all of a sudden need surgery “immediately”? In the car on the way home I told my mom I would not go in for surgery. It was not the right thing for me. It didn’t feel like my answer. There had to be another answer. Luckily, my mother listened to me.
We did go for a second opinion. This doctor told me that although my scoliosis was considered severe, I could live with it although I might have problems down the road. Two doctors. Two different opinions. But I didn’t just want to live with it, and I didn’t want the surgery. I knew there had to be another answer.
I had read that exercise was good for Scoliosis. And besides a lot of different things going on in my life at the time that compounded the situation, this is basically where my Exercise Bulimia first came to light. That’s when I started getting addicted to exercise. Not only could I control my food, I could work out for hours and hopefully help my spine. Not logical thinking (I know that now), but I didn’t want to die. And I was in a bad place as a teenager, mentally and physically. And all that exercise actually only hurt my spine more.
I started going to a chiropractor, and although we would do x-rays over the years, my spine was only getting worse. Eventually I did have mobility issues, and eventually my scoliosis did start to limit me. Still I refused to give up my belief that there had to be another answer besides surgery.
I was nineteen and living on my own in my first apartment, and going to college. Next door to me lived a family, a husband, wife and two kids. Somehow I learned that the husband was a chiropractor, but not just any type of chiropractor. He was a specialist certified in the Atlas Orthogonal technique. Little did I know how serendipitous his living next door to me would be!
One day I got fed up with my spine. I wanted to do something that would actually work! So, I made an appointment and went to my neighbor’s office for a consultation. We talked and he explained the Atlas Orthogonal technique to me.
“What Is Atlas Orthogonal?
The Atlas Orthogonal Program is a revolutionary advancement in chiropractic used to find and correct spinal misalignment based on scientific and biomechanical principles.
Atlas Orthogonal is profoundly safe, effective, painless and without gross manipulation to the spine.
The procedure is a chiropractic specialty using precision non-invasive analysis and treatment without drugs or surgery.”
Dr. Thomas did a series of x-rays and after looking them over, he said I would be a candidate for the Atlas Orthogonal technique. When I was 20 years old I started treatments, and twelve years later I am still going for treatment and have seen such improvement in my spine that not only am I amazed, but so is Dr. Thomas and colleagues of his! Supposedly you can’t “fix” scoliosis, but somehow mine has actually improved through Atlas Orthogonal!
Atlas Orthogonal uses no forms of gross manipulation (i.e. no popping and cracking). It is super safe, gentle, and there is absolutely no pain. So, how does Atlas Orthogonal work exactly? To understand that, you need to know what and where the Atlas bone is.
“Atlas or C1 (1st cervical vertebra) is the top bone in the spine. It sits directly under the skull and is responsible for holding the head in an upright position as well as protecting the brainstem and dictating how all other vertebrae below it behave.”
The atlas bone weighs only 2 ounces and holds the head which weighs up to 17 pounds! Atlas acts as a fulcrum to the head and is responsible for the alignment of the entire spine. When the atlas bone is in proper alignment, structural posture is in its correct position and communication between the brain and the rest of the body is optimally functioning.
The body acts as a whole unit. We are constantly responding to gravity starting from the head and ending at the feet. When the atlas bone is misaligned, the head becomes off the center of gravity, which causes compensation in the middle (thoracic) and lower (lumbar) segments of the spine. This results in asymmetrical muscle contraction, unleveling of the hips and a discrepancy of leg length. When the atlas is in its proper position, all other vertebrae come into line under the centered head. When muscles of the back contract and relax equally, the nervous system is free of interference. The result is a balanced structure and restored health!”
Basically, if your head is off-alignment because of an Atlas misalignment, then it can cause pain, pressure, and problems to the rest of your body. When I first went to Dr. Thomas, my very first x-rays showed a 16mm misalignment of the Atlas bone! Dr. Thomas was surprised and had only seen such a high misalignment in a text book. After one adjustment, the misalignment went down to 2mm and ever since my misalignment has stayed at 2mm.
I go every 4-6 weeks to see Dr. Thomas. Sometimes I am out of alignment, and I usually know when I am because I will start having headaches, my back will hurt, and I will have other symptoms. Other times, I hold alignment for very long periods of time. But, for me and because of the way my scoliosis is, it’s something I need to keep on. I need to go to my appointments to make sure I stay in alignment.
So how has this actually helped my scoliosis? It’s actually been reflected in my x-rays throughout the years and it has been remarkable. When I first went to Dr. Thomas twelve years ago my thoracic and lumbar curves measured in the 50 degree range. At my last x-ray, which was April 2016, my thoracic curve measured 39 degrees and my lumbar curve measured 42 degrees!!!!!
I have regained my mobility as well! I have a lot less problems with my scoliosis now, and have learned my limitations. But, in my everyday life, my scoliosis doesn’t stop me. I basically can do whatever I want to do within reason. I have the most issues when it comes to lifting, bending, or standing for long periods of time, but that’s basically it. And I have zero problems breathing.
Dr. Thomas has helped me in so many ways. He was the answer I had been looking for the entire time and he has completely changed my life. Here’s the thing. Finding what worked for me when it came to my scoliosis was not an overnight solution. It took me from the ages of 13-19 to find a solution that worked. And it’s taken me from the ages of 20-32 to see real true results! That’s a long time, but here’s the important thing. I never ever gave up. I never ever stopped believing that there was a better answer for me than surgery. I never stopped looking and all that looking led me to Dr. Thomas.
I’m very holistic when it comes to many things. My belief, and this is because of what I have experienced, is that when it comes to scoliosis, most doctors recommend surgery. But, surgery is very invasive. I have heard horror stories about the surgery throughout the years as well as have talked to people who have more limited mobility now than they did before. It just doesn’t make sense to me to jump into such an invasive “solution” when there are other solutions out there.
That’s not to say that surgery doesn’t have it’s time and place. If scoliosis so severe that it’s to the point where it’s impacting the heart, or putting pressure on organs, than by all means have the surgery. But, when it comes to most general cases of scoliosis, I believe in exhausting all other options first.
If I listened to the Orthopedic doctor when I was 13 I would have had the surgery. I would have a fused spine with a metal rod. How that would have impacted my life I don’t know. But, deep down I knew that there was more than one answer, and I knew that I had to blaze my own path. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.
Find what works for you. Don’t jump into “quick fixes”. Do the work. Do the research. Listen to your heart. Do what feels right, not what others are telling you to do. There is always more than one path. There is always more than one solution. Dr. Thomas has been a God-Send in my life, and I am forever thankful to him for all he has done.
Blaze your own path.
To Read More About Atlas Orthogonal and Dr. Thomas:
- Check out Dr. Gregory Thomas’ website: http://www.youratlasfirst.com/home.html
- Check out the Global AO website: http://www.atlasorthogonality.com/PatientSite/aboutAO.html
Connect With Dr. Gregory Thomas:
- Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic, 246 N. Frankin Turnpike, Suite #6, Ramsey, NJ
- Telephone #: 201-962-8228
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my own personal review and I have not received any compensation for it. Follow us on Instagram to see how we live our M.U.D. Life everyday!
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