What is a Scoliosis Brace?
Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve abnormally.
A scoliosis brace is a device worn around the torso to help prevent the curve from getting worse. It also reduces the likelihood that you will need surgery in the future if bone growth stops.
For children or adolescents whose bones are still growing, braces are the only treatment available that may slow the progression of the curve. It doesn't work after bone growth stops.
How does the brace work?
Scoliosis braces are designed to slow or stop the progression of the curvature of the spine caused by scoliosis.
Rigid braces put pressure on your spine in multiple locations to help keep it from bending more than it does. Dynamic braces slow down curve progression by retraining your body to maintain a corrective posture.
How is the support effect?
Braces have been used to treat scoliosis for over 450 years, but questions remain about their effectiveness.
Braces only slow or stop the progression of spinal curvature. They can't get rid of curves or straighten their spines.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), they are effective in about 80 percent of people treated with them.
Improve the effectiveness of support
The stand will not work if it is not worn properly or for the recommended time. For maximum efficiency:
Wear the stand correctly
- Check often to make sure it fits, and revise if it doesn't
- Wear it for the recommended time, usually 16-23 hours a day
Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve excessively to the left or right side of the body.
Abnormal curvature of the spine can cause:
Uneven shoulders, waist, and hips when standing
- your head is not centered on your body
- your ribs are angled upward on one side
- your body leans to the left or right
- back pain
According to the AANS, only 20% of people with scoliosis have an identifiable cause. The remaining cases were idiopathic, meaning the cause was unknown.
The most common identifiable causes are:
Spinal deformities that occur before birth (congenital anomalies or birth defects)
- neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy
- Spinal cord injury
Tools used to diagnose scoliosis include:
- Adam's Forward Bend Test, a screening test to look for asymmetry in your torso as you bend over
- X-ray, CT or MRI images of the spine
The severity of the condition is determined by measuring the degree of spinal dislocation.
What other treatments are there for scoliosis?
How to manage your scoliosis depends on:
how mature your bones are. A brace is more likely to be recommended if your bones are still growing.
- Where the spine is curved. Curves in the upper back tend to be worse than other areas.
- How severe is the curve. Typically, supports are only used for curves between 25 and 40 degrees. Curves over 40 degrees usually require surgery.
- For severe scoliosis, bracing is the only treatment option until your bones stop growing. If you have mild scoliosis or your bones are mature, there are other treatment options.
If your curve is mild, your doctor may decide to watch and see what happens over time instead of treating it. If the curve starts to worsen, treatment may be recommended.
How your doctor tracks your scoliosis depends on your age.
Usually children see the doctor every 4 to 6 months until they are in their teens. Adults with scoliosis usually have an X-ray every 5 years unless it gets worse.
Braces only slow the progression of scoliosis. In addition to stopping it from getting worse, surgery can also fix the curve.
Surgery recommendations are based on:
- previous treatment
- severity of the curve
Surgery is recommended in the following cases:
The curve is 40 degrees or greater and is being performed in children
- Outdated surgical procedures performed on children need to be revised as they become adults
- Curve of 50 degrees or greater, with signs of nerve damage, indicating spinal stenosis
In most cases, the surgery involves fusing the spinal segments (vertebrae) together after straightening the spine with a solid metal rod.
Adults with spinal stenosis undergo a procedure called a decompression laminectomy. It creates more room for nerve roots to travel in narrow (narrow) vertebrae.
The need for a brace after surgery depends on the surgical technique used.
What to expect from support
When you have scoliosis, braces can effectively slow or stop the progression of the curvature of the spine.
It doesn't straighten your spine completely or permanently. It should only be used if the curve is of moderate size and the bone is still growing.
For maximum effect, your brace must be worn for the number of hours per day recommended by your doctor. Wear braces until your bones stop growing.
In teenagers, this is usually 3 or 4 years. When scoliosis is diagnosed in childhood, it may be necessary to wear a brace for a long time, usually years.