Brace (orthotic) treatment for scoliosis is used to prevent spinal curve progression and to maintain a more normal appearance of the back.
The goal of brace treatment is to prevent the curve from getting worse. Bracing does not correct a curve. There may be some initial straightening of the spine and the appearance of correction when a brace is applied. But in most cases, after the child stops wearing the brace, this correction is lost and the curve returns to its original shape.
In most cases, any correction of the curve that occurred during bracing is lost, and the curve returns to its original shape after bracing is discontinued.
Brace treatment is used for a child who is still growing to prevent progression of moderate spinal curves. Brace treatment is usually continued until the child's skeleton stops growing.
Two common types of braces include the:
Braces are not effective for curves greater than 45 degrees.
Most research on using braces for scoliosis has focused on idiopathic scoliosis. In general, the research shows that braces can be effective for preventing curves from getting worse. The more the child wears the brace, the more effective the brace can be.
Braces are generally effective in providing immediate control of curves. When a brace is first applied, a significant correction is often seen. But after the child stops wearing the brace, the curve usually returns.
Although bracing does not always prevent a spinal curve from getting worse, the best results occur when:
Complications of bracing therapy include:
Children who wear braces are examined by a doctor regularly (such as every 3 months or 6 months or more frequently if problems arise) to monitor the effects of the brace.
A child who has a severe forward curve in his or her upper back in addition to scoliosis may not be well suited for bracing.
Children can ride a bicycle, play tennis, run, and jump while wearing a brace. But they should not participate in activities such as horseback riding, skiing, skating, and gymnastics while wearing a brace. Because wearing a brace makes many physical activities difficult, children or teenagers are typically advised to remove their braces when they participate in activities such as physical education classes.
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Other Works Consulted
Negrini S, et al. (2015). Braces for idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (6). DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006850.pub3. Accessed July 10, 2015.
Rowe DE, et al. (2002, updated 2014). SRS bracing manual. Scoliosis Research Society. http://www.srs.org/professionals/online-education-and-resources/srs-bracing-manual. Accessed January 29, 2016.
Spiegel DA, Dormans JP (2011). Idiopathic scoliosis. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 2365-2368. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Weinstein SL, et al. (2013). Effects of bracing in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(16): 1512-1521.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsDonald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Current as ofMarch 21, 2017
Current as of: March 21, 2017
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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