When you think about scoliosis braces, what comes to mind? The word "brace" itself brings up images of medieval torture devices or the thing that holds up your pants. It's common to feel nervous when you first hear about the possibility of wearing a brace. But if you think back to when you were younger and had to wear a cast or splint, braces aren't so bad! To be honest, these devices aren't actually torturous. In fact, they can help correct curves in your spine and relieve pain.
A back brace for scoliosis is worn by patients in an effort to prevent their condition from worsening and may also help correct existing curvature. While they're not 100% effective for every patient, they can be helpful if used properly by following your doctor's instructions and adhering strictly to the recommended schedule for wearing them.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis, which affects between 6 and 9 million people in America alone, is a condition that causes the spine to curve sideways. Curves for all types of scoliosis range from about 10 to 50 degrees, but as symptoms get worse, they can start affecting posture and daily life (like eating and sleeping). In some cases, severe scoliosis can also cause lung problems. It is a condition that can occur at any age but is most common in children and young adults. While it does not discriminate based on gender, scoliosis does tend to be more common in females than males.
Scoliosis is usually diagnosed based on an X-ray taken by a doctor or chiropractor. Doctors will use different methods depending on how severe your case is:
- If you have very mild scoliosis, you may only be asked to wear a brace for a short time while you’re young and growing quickly; this helps keep muscles strong so they won’t become permanently curved over time.
- If your curves aren't too bad but still affect how well your body works overall (for example if standing up straight becomes painful), then surgery might be recommended as an option; surgical procedures vary based on whether someone has curvature in one area or multiple areas along their spine.
There Is No Medication For Scoliosis
Because there's no medication to fix scoliosis or a clear cause for most cases of it, treatment is often all about shifting bones with different exercises and tools. When curves are less than 25 degrees, doctors might suggest physical therapy or checkups every few months (because many curves will actually get better on their own), but when curves exceed that threshold or are just not getting better on their own, doctors might recommend surgery or bracing to reduce the risk of the curve getting worse over time.
Scoliosis braces are used to prevent and treat scoliosis. Braces are worn at the thoracic level, meaning they go over your chest area, and sometimes can be modified to fit around the rib cage or abdominal muscles. A brace can help realign your spine if you have a curve or curves that exceed 25 degrees in severity. If you already have severe curves, bracing may not be enough to fully correct them unless you wear it for a long time (many years).
A back brace for scoliosis can also help prevent the disease from getting worse as your bones grow during puberty and adulthood. For instance, back braces (which are worn at the thoracic level) can sometimes be worn overnight instead of during the day while underarm (or underbrace) pads can be used during the day to reduce pressure points around the arms so they're more comfortable during wear time. The key is to find a brace that fits your body and provides enough support for your needs.
So Do Scoliosis Braces Work?
Well, yes. They work better than you might think. In fact, with a little help from physics, your muscles, and one very specific kind of plastic, braces can shift your spine into almost the exact position you want it in. The key is understanding how they work—and what makes them work so well.
Scoliosis braces are made up of two parts: a rigid shell that goes around your torso (or back), and an adjustable band that goes around your ribcage (or chest). These two pieces together apply pressure to keep your spine in line as much as possible while also providing support for any muscles that need it to maintain their strength throughout treatment. This system works like a giant sling wrapped around your body; by applying more pressure on one side than another, we can pull an area of the spine back into place over time until it reaches the desired shape.
Braces are more effective at preventing curve progression in younger patients. Younger patients, especially those under age 10, tend to respond better to bracing than older ones. Its effectiveness also depends on the type and severity of scoliosis. For example, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis braces are most effective at preventing the curve from progressing further when used early on, before the onset of puberty. Braces are also helpful in treating adults with spinal deformities caused by trauma or disease, but they will not completely correct spinal deformity due to these causes.
In addition to preventing curve progression, braces can help improve the quality of life for patients without negatively affecting their health or lifestyle choices. Wearing a brace does not limit mobility; it simply provides support for your spine while you are standing or sitting upright so that it stays straight instead of curving over time.
Scoliosis Braces Can Help Prevent Surgery, But They Aren't Without Their Limitations.
Scoliosis braces are more effective at preventing curve progression in younger patients. Your brace may be a good option if you:
- are younger than age 12
- have mild to moderate scoliosis and have not started puberty
If you're in this category, the braces can be used to prevent surgery and will likely help stabilize your spine as it grows into adulthood. The earlier you start wearing a brace, the greater its effectiveness will be at preventing curve progression.
The success rate of scoliosis bracing is correlated with how strictly it's adhered to.
In order to reap the full benefits of a back brace for scoliosis, it's important to know how to properly wear one. The following steps should be followed when wearing your brace:
- Inflate the air cells as needed in order to get a snug fit around your body and over your spine.
- Fasten the straps at each side of the scoliosis brace so that they cross in front and tie at the bottom (or back) of the brace for added support and compression on your body.
- Wear underwear beneath your scoliosis brace for extra comfort and warmth; you may also wish to wear a shirt with long sleeves if possible, as this will help prevent irritation from rubbing against the fabric for extended periods of time off-bracing
While a scoliosis brace may be uncomfortable at times, it's not painful. There should be no reason to stop wearing the brace if you experience pain while wearing it, however. if your back hurts when you wear your brace, talk to your doctor about how to make adjustments and get comfortable again.
If your scoliosis brace doesn't appear to be working for you, ask your doctor about other options that might work better for you. He or she may recommend another form of treatment, such as physical therapy or a diet change. In many cases, doctors encourage their patients to try adjusting the brace to make it more comfortable before trying something else entirely.
A Back Brace For Scoliosis May Not Be A Miracle Cure For All Patients, But It Can Certainly Help Prevent Curve Progression And Improve The Quality Of life For Those Who Wear Them.
We should be clear: a scoliosis brace is not a miracle cure for all patients, but it can certainly help prevent curve progression and improve the quality of life for those who wear them. It’s also important to note that scoliosis braces are not right for everyone. If you have any questions or concerns about the effectiveness of your brace, talk with your doctor.
Ultimately, the decision to wear a scoliosis brace is up to you. The best way to find out if scoliosis treatment is an option worth exploring is by speaking with an expert who can assess your case and determine if bracing would be helpful.