Rolfing Structural Integration Prevents Surgery

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Preventing Hip Replacement, Knee Replacement, Disc Fusions, Laminectomy, Carpal Tunnel Surgery…

“But the MRI, X-RAY, shows bone on bone!” or “bulging disc” or “degenerative disc disease” or “arthritis”

If you want to heal without surgery you are going to need to think more deeply on the subject because when you see an MRI like this showing a disc bulge and you have low back pain you can’t help but think this must be the obvious cause. Or if you see arthritis, “bone on bone” or other such degenerative conditions. But here lies one of the mysteries of the human body.

Just because you see those conditions in the imaging DOES NOT MEAN IT IS THE CAUSE. Rolfing can’t correct arthritis, degenerative disc disease or any of these types of problems in the body, YET i have relieved all the symptoms of them for decades.

80% of people have a bulging disc and very few know about it. If you develop back pain and they image you, they will naturally presume the bulge to be the cause. But what is happening in a very large percentage of these diagnosis is that the muscle/fascia surrounding the joint- vertebrae, knee, hip, wrist, etc. has become so adhesed that it is compressing the joint increasing the friction to the point of inflammation and pain. Releasing the fascia expands the joint capsule, expands the disc space, separates the wrist carpal bones, takes the pressure off of nerves and permanently solves the problem.

The fascia adhesions were the real cause of the symptoms and the x-ray results implied the problem was in the joint!

Similarly with the many other conditions that can lead to major surgeries like a hip replacement:

As I write this, I just prevented another hip replacement last month (April 2019). A 72 year old very active woman developed severe hip pain and could not only no longer ski but even walking her dog was excruciating. After visits to the orthopedist, acupuncturist, physical therapist and massage therapist it was concluded she needed a hip replacement as nothing was helping.

She came to see me in pain and not very hopeful. Within a few minutes of palpation I could feel the tremendous adhesions in her hip flexors and lateral rotators surrounding the hip joint as well as a likely nerve impingement in the low back. Deep myofascia work released the tissues sufficiently in the very first session to REMOVE ALL symptoms. We had several follow up sessions to finish the job and address the full complexity of the problem but she was able to return to normal activities immediately and avoid what was told to her as a certain need for hip replacement.

Of course there are many cases which rolfing can not solve and surgery is the right option but…

Surgery should be a last resort, explore your options first.

Rolfing vs Back Surgery

It is generally presumed that nerve impingement must be caused by bones/disks pressing on the nerve roots emerging from the spine. Muscles move bones, bones don’t move muscles. So if we have a misaligned vertebrae it is the muscles and the fascia that are to blame. When this creates a pressure on a nerve the solution is usually presumed to be the need of surgery.

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But muscle tension and Fascia restrictions are what move the bones out of alignment and apply pressure on the nerves causing the symptoms of numbness and tingling.  So surgeons just cut the tissues!  Instead you can have that tension released with Rolfing.  See the Colorado Study page I was involved in that proved the superiority of Rolfing to surgery for nerve problems. 

Think of a tall radio mast tower supported by wires. If the wires are too tight on one side it will pull the tower out of alignment and the solution is to obviously correct the tension on the wires- the fascia of the spine.

Severe Sciatic Nerve Pain in Both Legs

My very first Rolfing client, Scott, came to see me to prepare for his upcoming back surgery.  He was unable to find any position, sitting, lying down or standing to relieve the pain shooting down both of his legs, as a result he was in constant pain and on powerful pain & anti-inflammatory medications. He had had a thorough evaluation, MRI, showing a bulging disc at L-4 L-5 squeezing the sciatic nerve; and was scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks time. 

Despite the clear diagnosis "requiring surgery", he was pain free and cancelled his surgery after being rolfed only 4 times.  It was a great thing for him but equally for me as I discovered first hand the power of Rolfing.  Since that time I have prevented hundreds of surgeries and not just back surgeries but also hip, shoulder and carpal tunnel.

Surgery should be a last resort, explore your options before going under the knife.  Rolfing is a proven safe and effective therapy for the relief of nerve impingements. 

In the month of February 2014 I had a 6 patients come to see me in my San Jose del Cabo location all headed for back surgery.  Every one of them cancelled their surgeries and were symptom free in just weeks.  That is the power of Rolfing.

Sciatic nerve pain has TWO primary origins

1st is lumbar vertebrae compression, it is nearly always presumed to be the cause. Over years of time it is almost always the case that people develop chronic tension in the low back. This tension compresses the vertebrae which can lead to nerve root impingement. Then the individual can experience pain and symptoms anywhere down the entire pathway of the nerve from the hip to the feet. The solution to this nerve impingement in the vast majority of cases (even when MRI shows bulging disk, degenerative disk disease or arthritis) is fascial release of the multiple layers of tissue in the low back. This is true decompression therapy.

The 2nd origin of sciatic nerve pain is far more common and is simply an overly tight piriformus muscle squeezing the nerve on its exit from the the pelvis on its path down the back of the leg.  Piriformus is part of a group of hip muscles called in general “the deep six lateral rotators”. These muscles are all deep to the gluteus maximus and are prone to developing tremendous tension and adhesions. These muscles all connect to the top of the femur and lead to a plethora of hip problems and restrictions. Releasing the piriformus is only one part of the sciatic nerve correction as the entire group must be released to produce permanent relief. This is easily accomplished with Rolfing in just a few targeted treatments.

Lateral Rotator work has led to the prevention of dozens of hip and low back surgeries for my patients since my very first patient.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Nerve Entrapments

(OR numbness and tingling in the arms and hands)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a commonly misdiagnosed condition of a common problem of nerve impingement affecting the hand and wrist. Most often the condition is actually Thoracic Outlet Syndrome which I describe below. Carpal Tunnel is a “tunnel” that the median nerve passes through in the wrist between the carpal bones. Due to many factors but often computer use or musical instruments the fascia which holds the carpal wrist bones in place has formed tighter and tighter adhesions narrowing this tunnel and leading to the nerve compression.


This fascia is in the wrist is called the Palmar carpal ligament and the flexor retinaculum and in the case of surgery they simply slice through them and it springs the wrist open wider and usually resolves the problem. But that retinaculum is living tissue and will respond to deep fascia work to stretch and widen it and produce the same relief as the surgery without the potential permanent side effects of the surgery such as not being able to put weight on your wrists (like doing pushups) ever again. Try Rolfing for this relatively simple problem before the knife!

YES nerves get entrapped by soft tissues and in the case of “thoracic outlet syndrome” (which is just a scary and fancy medical name for tight scalene muscles) it is indeed muscles and fascia compressing the brachial plexus nerve (the thick yellow highlighted nerve in the illustration). The scalenes, like any muscle, can become short and tight due to overuse exercises such as situps, work related situations such as computer mouse use or even emotional grief and fear. Then, and particularly at night when we lay down on our side and compress the neck/shoulder region, the brachial nerve gets compressed and causes tingling in the hand or elbow.

This “syndrome” can get complex and even cut off blood flow to the arm. I have seen an extreme case of this where no therapies had worked and the proposed remedy was surgery to remove the first rib entirely and the scalene muscles (eeek!). Rolfing over a few months completely resolved this issue and a gruesome surgery was prevented.