How Do Scoliosis Braces Work?

Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder where the spine curves abnormally, often into an “s” shape. The curvature starts out painless and takes place during the growth spurt just before puberty so often children between 10 and 15 are diagnosed during routine exams. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly 3 million new cases are diagnosed in the US each year. Not all cases require treatment, many are very mild. For the 30% that do need treatment, the most common option is to wear a scoliosis back brace. A small percentage of people will need surgery.

Interesting Facts About Scoliosis

  • Scoliosis Is Not Preventable

According to Harvard Health, most cases of scoliosis cannot be prevented. That means there is nothing a parent or child could have done to keep the disorder from happening. There is usually a strong genetic link, even if parents are unaware of it because many cases of mild scoliosis are symptom-free and go undiagnosed. 

  • Early Detection Of Scoliosis Can Prevent Future Complications

Once the spine is curved there is no way to correct it but physical therapy and scoliosis braces can prevent or slow down any future changes to the spine. When caught early and treated when necessary, complications can be avoided such as chronic pain, loss of mobility and breathing problems. 

  • Not All Scoliosis Cases Need Treatment

Of the 3 million cases diagnosed in the US each year, only around 30% require treatment. That treatment is usually to wear a scoliosis brace for a number of years. In the worst cases, spinal fusion surgery may be needed. 

  • Scoliosis Diagnosis Are Becoming More Prevalent

The market for scoliosis braces and surgeries is increasing year over year. This is largely due to increased awareness leading to more early detection. Scoliosis is often checked for in routine physicals and some schools also do scoliosis checks on students. 

  • Girls are more at risk for scoliosis 

According to studies done by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, girls are 10 times more likely to develop scoliosis than boys and they are 8 times more likely to have complications and more severe cases.

  • Sometimes adults, especially older adults, are diagnosed with scoliosis. 

Sometimes due to trauma or old age, a previously undiagnosed development of scoliosis can worsen causing pain and deformity of the spine. Some people will find out they have scoliosis when they are over the age of 60. Braces tend not to work at this stage but can be used for comfort or possible pain reduction while waiting for surgery. 

How A Scoliosis Brace Works

Healthcare Weekly explains that a scoliosis brace is similar to a stiff jacket made of plastic that fits around your torso. It extends from underneath the arms, down to the hips. It also includes tight-fitting straps to help straighten the spine. Older models were very uncomfortable and obtrusive but modern versions are far easier to wear and continue your daily life. 

A brace will work best when worn by a patient that is still growing and may be used for several years. The disorder comes in a multitude of severities, so there are a number of different brace options available. The two main types of scoliosis braces are orthotic and orthosis. 

Orthotic Scoliosis braces are made to support the spine and improve its functioning. It is a little more flexible and sometimes called a “dynamic” brace. More often than not, the orthotic brace is not enough. A more restrictive orthosis brace is often recommended. The orthosis brace prevents certain movements and gives even more support to the spine. 

The brace doesn’t actually improve the curve of the spine that has already formed. Children and teens wear the brace to prevent or slow down future damage. Untreated scoliosis that is of a more aggressive nature can lead to debilitating pain and loss of moment for some people. The braces are highly effective though with a success rate between 50% and 85%. The earlier the diagnosis is given, the higher the rate of success is found with the brace. 

A scoliosis brace might also be worn by adults with severe scoliosis to improve pain. Often adults will wear the brace while waiting for spinal surgery, which is needed by a small percentage of patients with scoliosis. 

The brace is effective in supporting the spine and slowing down or preventing further damage. Often people worry that the brace isn’t working because the results are slow and subtle, but research suggests that a brace can be a very effective treatment. Sometimes the biggest struggle is getting a young person to wear the brace consistently. 

Signs That You Or Your Child Might Need A Scoliosis Brace 

According to an article published by The Complete Herbal Guide, there are several signs that can alert parents that their child with scoliosis could benefit from a brace. Since not all children will need a brace, it can be confusing to know if you’re doing all that you can. Here are some tips that could indicate a scoliosis brace is needed:

The curve is moderate, usually between 20 and 40 degrees. 

This is because if the curve is less than 20 degrees the brace is unnecessary and if the curve is over 40 degrees it is too severe for the brace to work and surgery might be a better option. 

Your child is experiencing new or worsening symptoms.

Mild scoliosis isn’t painful and many people don’t even know they have it. If your child has pain associated with their back, this can be a sign that a brace is needed. 

An X-Ray show the curvature is progressing.

If the curve in the spine is continuing to get worse then a brace is needed to prevent further damage. 

Your child is young with a lot more growing to do.

Early diagnosis is the key and having them wear a brace early can prevent as much curvature as possible. If you are lucky enough to find scoliosis early, a brace can help keep the condition mild. 

This post comes from Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling

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