An orthopedic brace is one of the most effective treatment options for idiopathic scoliosis in children. Here, we explain what it is, which cases it is recommended for, and how it works.
Idiopathic scoliosis is a pathology in which the spine is curved to a greater or lesser degree. When this type of scoliosis occurs during childhood or adolescence, it does not usually cause symptoms, but as the patient grows older, it can worsen. For this reason, it is important to treat scoliosis as soon as it is diagnosed. Treatment may include the use of a brace or orthopedic support to straighten the spine, although this depends on the degree of curvature of the spine and how it progresses, which will be monitored by the specialist.
In which cases is an orthopedic brace recommended?
Wearing a brace is only recommended as a means to correct scoliosis in the case of children or adolescents. The orthopedic surgeon will determine if bracing treatment is appropriate, taking into account the degree of curvature of the spine and how it changes between check-ups. If the curvature increases by several degrees, treatment with a brace will be necessary to control it and keep the curve from getting worse.
However, if the spine’s curvature is greater than 45 or 50 degrees, the use of a brace will not be enough to correct the scoliosis, so surgery should be considered.
Use of a scoliosis brace is not recommended in the case of adults, because, since an adult’s spine is no longer growing, wearing a brace cannot keep the curve from getting worse. Again, the possibility of surgery should be considered, as well as medication if the patient’s scoliosis causes them pain.
How does a scoliosis brace work?
The brace works like a stiff vest that wraps around the torso, covering it from the armpits to the hips. There is more than one type of brace and the specialist will recommend the most appropriate one according to the degree of curvature and the area of the spine affected by the patient’s scoliosis. Whichever type of brace is recommended, it will be customized to suit the patient’s body and spinal curvature they have.
With regard to the number of hours per day that the brace must be worn, this varies according to the patient’s scoliosis and the type of brace that is chosen. There are scoliosis braces designed to be worn only at night and others that are worn most of the day (approximately 20-22 hours per day).
In terms of the overall duration of bracing treatment, this will vary according to the state of the spine’s curvature at the time a brace begins to be used and the time when the patient’s period of growth ends. For this reason, it is important to go to the specialist as soon as possible so that there is no delay in diagnosis. The sooner it is treated, the more chances there are that the curve can be corrected.
Guidelines for correct usage of the brace
Once the specialist has prescribed use of a brace to treat idiopathic scoliosis, it will be necessary to follow some guidelines to use it properly. Here are some basic tips:
- Wear a light, closely fitting t-shirt under the brace.
- Wash the brace periodically according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- See your doctor if you notice any problem that seems related with its use: blisters or ulcers on the skin, respiratory distress, etc.
We hope that this information from Instituto Clavel helps clear up any questions you may have about use of a scoliosis brace.