Wearing Your Scoliosis Brace
Scoliosis bracing is a team effort. Participation of all team members – patients, family members, physicians, orthotists, nurses, etc. – is very important for success.
Goal of Treatment
The goal of treatment is to keep the scoliotic curve from getting any larger and to avoid the need for surgery. Bracing typically does not correct the curve, but occasionally some correction is achieved. In order to be effective, the brace must be worn for many hours every day while you are still growing. Your doctor will tell you exactly how many hours to wear the brace each day. Once your doctor believes that you have stopped growing, you will no longer need to wear the brace.
When scoliosis is first diagnosed, several appointments are needed. These appointments include brace fitting, brace adjustments, and in-brace x-rays. In general, you will return at least four times a year during the course of your scoliosis treatment. Make sure that you bring your brace with you at every appointment.
Putting on the Brace
Your scoliosis brace is made to hold your back as straight as possible while you are growing to keep your curve from increasing in size. To do this, it must be worn tightly and for many hours each day.
Wear a tight-fitting undershirt. Open up the brace and slide it around your body. Move the brace up or down until the waist rolls fit in your waist between your ribs and the bottom of your hip bones. Tighten the straps to the lines marked by your orthotist. If the undershirt wrinkles or has seams, pull on the fabric to smooth them out.
If You Have Trouble Tightening the Brace
Have a helper pull the sides of the brace together while tightening the straps. Your helper may lean against your side and pull the straps towards him/herself.
Instead of this technique, you could try lying on your side so that your helper can push the brace closed while tightening the straps.
Getting used to wearing your brace will take some time. Follow your doctor and your orthotist’s instructions for getting used to the brace.
Every time you take off your brace, check your skin for redness. There will be areas of redness where the brace is pushing against your curve, but this redness should fade away in 30-45 minutes. If you develop a bruise, blister, or sore, your brace needs an adjustment.
Taking Care of Your Skin
The brace pushes firmly on your body and will cause redness on your skin. Over time, the skin in the pressure areas may become darkened and tougher. These changes are temporary and may improve brace comfort. Especially when you first start wearing a brace, do not use lotion on your skin. The lotion will soften your skin and make it more prone to irritation and breakdown. If at any time you develop a bruise, blister, or sore, your brace needs an adjustment.
Always wear a tight fitting shirt underneath your brace. If you do not want your brace to be noticeable, stick with clothes that are more loose fitting. Bras without underwire may be more comfortable. To making going to the bathroom easier, some people wear their underwear on top of the brace.
Cleaning the Brace
To help prevent skin irritation, the inside of the brace must be cleaned at least once a week, or more often as needed. Use a cloth or cotton pad to wipe the brace clean with rubbing alcohol.