Frequently Asked Questions about Bracing
Will my scoliosis brace be painful or uncomfortable?
Your scoliosis brace should never be painful! At first, your scoliosis brace may be a little uncomfortable because of the pressures being applied to correct your curve. However, these pressures should feel like "handprints," not "finger pokes." If your brace has pinpoint areas of pressure, describe these pressures to your orthotist, so he/she can adjust it.
It is important that you gradually get used to wearing your brace. This helps your body adjust to the newness of the brace and helps to minimize discomfort.
After the first week or two, your brace should not be uncomfortable. You may not describe it as "comfortable," like you would your favorite pair of pajamas, but you should be able to tolerate wearing the brace for the recommended number of hours each day. If you find that the brace is irritating you as the day goes on, you probably need an adjustment from your orthotist.
Will people be able to notice my brace under my clothes?
It all depends on your clothes. If you wear a tighter fitting shirt, people will probably be able to see the edges of the brace. With a loose-fitting shirt, the brace can be disguised very well. Wear clothes that make you feel confident, regardless of if that means disguising your brace or showing it off. Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to look for scoliosis fashion advice.
What should I wear under my brace?
You want to wear a tight-fitting shirt underneath your scoliosis brace. The shirt gives you an extra layer of protection between your skin and your brace. Wrinkles are often the enemy! They can create excessive pressure in certain areas and cause skin irritation. If your brace comes up high underneath your armpit, you may want to wear a short sleeve shirt underneath your brace instead of a tank top. In terms of finding the best undershirt, sometimes it's a bit of trial and error until you find the best one for you.
Can my brace get wet?
It's not a big deal if your brace gets wet. Nothing will happen to the plastic, but if you continually get your brace wet, the rivets (metal pieces connecting your straps) and padding, may start to breakdown. If your brace does get wet, dry it off completely before you put it back on to prevent skin irritation.
Can I still play sports?
You can absolutely still play sports! Although sports are not a form of treatment for your scoliosis, sports and physical activity are encouraged for children and adolescents with scoliosis for various benefits, such as muscle strength, coordination, and overall wellbeing.
You will probably need to take your brace off while you are practicing because the brace can constrict your movement. If you know that you will be taking your brace off for practice, discuss with your healthcare team how you can rearrange your schedule to still meet your wear-time goals.
If you get hot and sweaty during practice, let yourself cool down before putting your brace back on. If you put your brace on while you are still sweating, your skin is more likely to become irritated. Bring an extra undershirt to change into before putting your brace back on. This will also help prevent skin irritation.
How long will my scoliosis brace last?
Scoliosis braces typically last for 9 - 18 months. It all depends on how quickly you are growing. If you a growing very quickly, then you will need a new brace sooner. Keeping track of your height and weight changes is very important. Height changes are especially important because if you have had a growth spurt, the pressures inside of your brace that are pushing against your curve may no longer be in the right position. That is why it is very important to follow-up with your orthotist regularly and tell him/her about any growth spurts.
Will my scoliosis brace be hard?
Your scoliosis brace will be made of a thermoplastic material, so yes, it will hard. Some braces are lined with padding on the inside, while other braces are strictly plastic. Either way, your brace should not be painful or uncomfortable. Although the braces are hard, they also have some flexibility to them, which helps when you put on and take off your brace.
How often does the brace need to be adjusted?
Brace adjustments are common. When you are first fit with your scoliosis brace, your orthotist will make lots of adjustments to make sure the brace fits correctly and is comfortable. After you take your brace home and wear it for a while, you might notice that a certain area is consistently uncomfortable. If this is the case, you likely need an adjustment to make the brace more comfortable.
Because the brace does not grow when you grow, you may notice some new uncomfortable areas after you have a growth spurt. Be sure to return to see your orthotist if this is the case because you may need an adjustment or you may even need a whole new brace.
Are follow-up appointments necessary?
Follow-up appointments are a MUST. Your brace does not grow when you grow, so it is very important that your orthotist regularly checks the fit of your brace. If you have had a growth spurt, the pressures inside of your brace that are pushing against your curve may no longer be in the right position. If that is the case, your brace will not be as effective as it could be.
Should I do physical therapy in addition to wearing my brace?
Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises, or PSSE, is a type of physical therapy aimed at elongating and derotating your spine. This type of physical therapy must be performed by a certified physical therapist since the exercises are customized for your unique spinal deformation. If you want to learn more, talk with your doctor or orthotist.
More of a visual learner? Check out Malia Jade's Q&A YouTube video!