Zebras, Not Horses

By Jenny Rock, LMT, Certified Advanced Rolfer

In medicine, the expression “When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses not zebras” means that we shouldn’t start with an assumption that the patient is suffering from some horrible or rare disease or condition. Fair enough. But what about those people that ARE experiencing the rare or unusual disease or condition?  Are they to be ignored or overlooked because they don’t fit into a nice little box?  I say, “NO!”

While I am happy to treat anyone whether or not they have pain, and whether or not their situation is unusual, most people who seek me out for bodywork do so because they have pain that no one else has been able to help remedy.  Dare I say, I treat LOTS AND LOTS of zebras.

While I am not claiming to be an expert in any of these (far from it), here is a PARTIAL list of zebra conditions that I have treated over the years:

Breast augmentation encapsulation (and other problems)

Cancer (pre and post, too many types to list)

Carpal Tunnel (pre and post surgical intervention)

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Chiari Malformation

Cubital tunnel

Erlos Danlos Syndrome

Extra vertebrae


Frozen shoulder

Fusion (spinal)

Harrington rods (scoliosis) (working and broken)

Headaches/Migraines (all types)

Heel spurs

Hernia (with and without mesh repairs)

Hip replacement(s)/resurfacing

IT Band syndrome (Iliotibial band)

Knee replacement(s)




Motor vehicle accident injuries (SOOOOOO many things)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Plantar fasciitis

Rotator cuff injuries and tears (pre and post surgery)

Scar tissue problems (typically from surgery)



Spinal stenosis



Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction


Traumatic brain injury


Additionally: sprains, strains, breaks, surgeries, injuries (repetitive and event triggered), and sports injuries (especially golfers, runners, and cyclists).

As well as people with plates, nuts, bolts, and screws implanted in a variety of locations, from cranium to great toe (I’m not even exaggerating).

As you can imagine, there are many things on this list (as well as things I did not list) that I can’t change for someone…… and I never pretend that I can. I am well aware of my limitations. But even for those people with conditions well outside of my scope of practice, FREQUENTLY I can help them manage pain, thus lowering their dependence on medications. I also enjoy helping people (whether or not they are a client) find another practitioner who is better suited to help them, either with or without me being in the mix. So in that way I STILL get to help.

So if you’re a zebra, if medical providers have told you that they can’t do more, if they tell you that it’s all in your head…….. give me a call. Perhaps I have a different approach, and perhaps I can help YOU.