Spinal Health Awareness Month - Scoliosis Bracing
Updated: Oct 18, 2020
In recognition of National Spinal Health Awareness Month, this article aims to provide educational information and helpful tips on wearing and caring for a scoliosis brace.
A back brace can be prescribed by an orthopedic doctor for a variety of conditions, namely, to treat scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.
While idiopathic scoliosis is a common spinal condition found in children, only a small percentage, approximately 30 percent, of those diagnosed require bracing.
Why do I need to wear a brace?
During growth, scoliosis may rapidly worsen. A scoliosis brace prevents further curving of the spine as the child grows to avoid any surgery in the future.
How long do I have to wear a brace?
Depending on the spine curvature and age of onset, your doctor will specify how many hours per day to wear a brace and will work with you to find an optimal wearing routine.
At first, a patient may gradually increase daily brace wearing time. For an effective bracing treatment, a patient may need to wear their brace as much as 23 hours a day until they stop growing. As the child grows, they will spend less time wearing it and will no longer need it once they are mature. When used as instructed, bracing is known to stop curve progression in about 80 percent of children with scoliosis.
Wearing your brace per your doctor's orders will ensure it works as intended, which usually calls for many hours of daily wearing time. With a rigid support that generally wraps around the torso, it is necessary to know how to stay comfortable throughout the day. Similarly, caring for your brace is essential to keep it in good condition, so it is as effective as possible.
Below are tips for wearing and caring for your brace.
Wearing a back brace
Ask a friend or family member for help with putting on and taking off your brace.
Always wear the brace as prescribed and ensure that it is tight enough, as a loose brace can cause friction and irritation.
Wear a shirt under the brace that is clean, cotton, tight-fitting, and extends past your hips to prevent skin irritation.
Keep your skin clean by washing the skin underneath the brace every day.
Protect your skin from redness and blisters by toughening it up with rubbing alcohol. Apply rubbing alcohol with your hands to the areas of skin that the brace presses on. (Will take about 2-3 weeks to toughen). Use cornstarch as a substitute for skin that is sensitive to alcohol.
Wear loose clothing over the brace.
Stay in cool places when the weather is hot.
Stay positive! Bracing improves spinal health and reduces back problems in the future.
Caring for a back brace
Clean your brace with soap and water daily and dry it.
Wipe down with rubbing alcohol once a week.
Check for wear.
When to contact your doctor/specialist
If you notice raw skin, sores, or pain caused by friction from your brace, your brace may need to be adjusted. Straps also will wear over time and need to be replaced, which can be done quickly by your orthotist. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call your physician or your orthotist.
National Scoliosis Foundation: a notable resource if you are seeking additional information and support.
Curvy Girls: an international network of scoliosis support groups for teen girls.
Custom Bracing at Kickstart O&P
Should you or your child be diagnosed with scoliosis, a doctor may prescribe a custom-made brace to slow the progression of the spinal curvature.
Here at Kickstart, our certified orthotist/prosthetist will work with you and your doctor to develop and carry out a treatment plan, providing a specially-made brace just for you.
If you would like to schedule an appointment or a consultation at Kickstart, please call (510) 996-4200 or fill out our Request More Information page.
Nsf. “BRACING FOR ADOLESCENT IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS.” National Scoliosis Foundation, 22 June 2015, www.scoliosis.org/bracing-for-adolescent-idiopathic-scoliosis/.
Nsf. “DONATE.” National Scoliosis Foundation, www.scoliosis.org/.
“Patient Guide to Scoliosis Bracing.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns-hopkins-childrens-center/what-we-treat/specialties/orthopaedics/_documents/Patient-guide-scoliosis-bracing.pdf .
“Scoliosis.” AANS, www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Scoliosis.
“Using Your 2-Piece TLSO (Brace) at Home.” UW Health, www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/orthopedics/5390.pdf.
“Wearing and Caring for Your Back Brace.” Spine INA, 20 Nov. 2019, spineina.com/blog/wearing-and-caring-for-your-back-brace/.