New to scoliosis bracing: common questions and ways to emBRACE your brace
When you have scoliosis support can come from a lot of different places: physical therapists, doctors, friends, support groups, social media, and maybe even a back brace. Depending on your age, scoliosis type, and curve progression- your orthopedist may recommend that you use a brace. Getting a brace for scoliosis and adjusting to life wearing a brace can be an overwhelming process. Shula, our physical therapy intern, shared her knowledge about scoliosis and braces to help you answer all the questions you may have about bracing!
Why would I need a brace?
Scoliosis braces are designed to prevent your spine from becoming more curved as you grow. Your orthopedist may recommend that you see an orthotist. An orthotist is a professional who specializes in fitting and making braces. Everyone with scoliosis has a different curve progression, so the orthotist will be able to design a brace specifically for your needs.
Do I need to wear the brace all day?
The brace only works if you wear it as your doctor recommended. Depending on the curve progression, age, and treatment goals your doctor may want you to wear a brace 24 hours or only part of the day. People with moderate scoliosis typically wear their brace for around 18 hours a day. This might mean that they wear it for 8 hours while sleeping, and then 10 hours during the day. Some people chose to do this so they don’t have to wear it during school. Alternatively, some people only have to wear their brace at night. Orthotists design special night braces for this purpose. Remember that everyone with scoliosis is different. It’s best to rely on your care team for advice on how to wear the brace.
How to prepare yourself mentally:
Wearing a brace can have a big impact on your mental health. It’s common to get thoughts like:
Will people see my brace through my shirt?
This is so uncomfortable, I hate wearing my brace.
Will my friends think I am weird for wearing a brace?
I feel trapped in my brace.
Although it may be easy to fall into these negative thoughts– remind yourself that this brace will help you feel better in the long run. The more you embrace your brace, the easier it will be to accept it. Try not to feel trapped, but rather empowered that this brace can enhance your quality of life. Tell your friends about your brace, and lean on them when you need support. Additionally, reach out to support groups such as Curvy Girls Scoliosis to find other people who are going through the same thing as you.
Types of Scoliosis Braces
When it comes to braces- you have a lot of choices. Each brace has its own particular pros and cons. Some common braces you may see are:
Charleston Bending Brace
Rigo Cheneau Brace
Your doctor will work hand in hand with an orthotist to find the brace that is best for you, your scoliosis, and your lifestyle.
About the Rigo Brace
The Rigo Cheneau brace is often worn in conjunction with Schroth physical therapy treatment. This brace takes into account that scoliosis is a three-dimensional condition.
Do I wear my brace while exercising?
Our physical therapists do not recommend wearing your brace while exercising. The goal is to learn how to self-correct, and strengthen your muscles so you do not need to rely on the brace for support. In conjunction with physical therapy, practicing your prescribed home exercises will help you learn how to correct your posture and use your muscles properly.
What do I wear with my brace?
While they are creating more fashionable braces with different designs, not everyone feels comfortable showcasing their brace. Typically, you wear something under your brace like a tight tank top or t-shirt to prevent skin chafing and protect your skin. If you want to wear something over your brace, you might opt for something flowy and comfortable. Check out this blog post from the National Scoliosis Center that contains many tips on what to wear with your brace, along with some fall fashion tips.
Will I have to wear the brace for the rest of my life?
No, typically the brace is only worn when you are growing. The goal of this is to stop the curve from progressing as your body is growing and changing. Typically, you will be able to stop wearing the brace when you are fully grown.
Find confidence in wearing your brace
Learn about why you are wearing the brace. Ask your care team questions. The more you know- the more confident you will feel when explaining it to others!
Pick a color and style you like. Scoliosis braces come in many fancy patterns, colors, and more. If you like the way your brace looks- odds are you will be more comfortable wearing it!
Decorate your brace with stickers & have fun styling it. Embrace the challenge- and find ways that make you feel comfortable either showcasing your brace style or blending it in with your clothes.
Want to work with a Schroth certified physical therapist? Schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation with one of our physios