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Did you know that scoliosis is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide? Estimates suggest that scoliosis affects approximately 6-9 million people in the United States, which is 2-3 percent of the population. It’s a spine disorder that causes the spine to curve sideways. 

While it can occur in children, it’s more common in adults. If you’re one of the many adults with scoliosis, you may wonder if a back brace can help prevent the progression of this condition.

In this article, we’ll discuss all there is to know about back braces for scoliosis and how they can help improve your quality of life.

What is Scoliosis, and Who’s at Risk of Developing It?

Scoliosis is a complex spinal condition. Its effects are widespread and debilitating, impacting your back, legs, chest, and neck. The condition is characterized by an abnormal spine curvature, resulting in chronic pain and reduced mobility.

Although scoliosis is most commonly diagnosed in adolescence, the condition can occur at any age, although, on average, scoliosis begins from 10 to 15 years old for most people. 

While there’s no cure for scoliosis, treatments are available that can help manage the condition and prevent it from progressing.

Back braces for scoliosis are a common treatment option for adults affected by the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis, it’s essential to understand the different types of back braces available and how to choose the right one. In this guide, we’ll also discuss the different types of back braces available and how to select the right one for your needs.

Main Types of Scoliosis

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, four main types of scoliosis are distinguished by their cause and severity.

  1. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type. It typically develops in early adolescence and has no known cause. More severe cases may require surgery to prevent the spine from continuing to deform.
  2. Abnormalities cause congenital scoliosis in the bones or joints of the spine. This type tends to be more severe, and affected infants may need to wear a brace or have surgery.
  3. Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by conditions that affect the nervous system, muscles, or both. This type often progresses rapidly and can be difficult to treat.
  4. Degenerative scoliosis occurs when the spine deteriorates with age, often due to arthritis.

How a Back Brace Can Help Prevent the Progression of Scoliosis in Adults

While it’s most commonly diagnosed in children, adults can also develop the condition. In many cases, scoliosis progresses gradually, and the spine curve becomes more pronounced over time. This can lead to pain, difficulty moving, and other serious health problems

Fortunately, back braces for adults can help prevent the condition from progressing. Holding the spine in alignment allows back braces to take pressure off the muscles and joints and reduce the chances of further damage. 

In some cases, back braces may even help improve the spine curve. As a result, they can be an effective treatment for adults and children with scoliosis.

Types of Back Braces Available on the Market

While scoliosis can occur at any age, it most commonly develops during adolescence, when the spine is still growing. For this reason, scoliosis bracing is often prescribed for children and adolescents to prevent the condition from worsening.

Once a person reaches adulthood, however, scoliosis bracing is less commonly prescribed. Because of this, adult patients who are candidates for bracing typically have mild to moderate scoliosis and are willing to comply with the wearing schedule. The purpose of bracing is to stop the curve’s progression and prevent further deformity.

There are two main types of braces used to treat scoliosis:

  • Full-time braces are usually made of metal and are worn all day and removed for showers, exercising, and sleeping. They’re most commonly used in cases of severe scoliosis.
  • Nighttime braces are usually made of plastic and are only worn during sleep. They’re most commonly used for milder cases.

Full-time Braces

Different types of full-time braces can be used to treat scoliosis, and the best option for each patient depends on the severity of the condition.

  • Boston Brace is the most commonly used brace for scoliosis. It covers the chest to the pelvis and is usually made of plastic and metal bars. It puts pressure on the chest and stomach to stop the spine from curving more. This brace is worn all day but can be removed for bathing and exercise.
  • Wilmington Brace is a less common brace used for mild scoliosis cases. It only covers the part of the back that curves outward. It pushes the curve backward, and the user can wear it all day. Nonetheless, it can be removed for bathing and exercise.
  • Milwaukee Brace is the least common type of scoliosis brace. It covers from the chin to the pelvis and has a metal bar in front and behind the knees. This type of brace pushes back both curves of the spine at the same time. It is worn all day, but it can be removed for bathing.

Nighttime Braces

There are two most common nighttime braces, the Charleston Bending Brace and Providence Brace, both are custom-made to fit each patient’s unique body shape, and both types can be adjusted as the patient’s condition progresses.

  • Charleston Bending Braces are typically used for patients who have mild to moderate scoliosis and are still growing. The brace is worn at night and helps slow the condition’s progression by applying pressure to the ribs, which encourages the spine to grow in a straighter position.
  • Providence Braces are typically used for patients with severe scoliosis or no longer growing. The brace is worn at night and helps to hold the spine in a straighter position, which can help to relieve pain and improve mobility.

The Benefits of Wearing a Back Brace for Scoliosis

In younger patients, bracing is mainly recommended to limit the condition’s progression. In older adults, bracing is most often prescribed to reduce pain and limit the need for medication.

The rationale for this difference is that in older adults, the bones are no longer growing, so there is no potential for improvement with bracing. Instead, the goal is to provide support and stability to the joints to prevent further deterioration and help reduce pain.

There are a variety of brace styles available, and the type of brace that is prescribed will depend on the patient’s individual needs. The type of brace best suited for each individual will be determined by the severity of their scoliosis and other factors, such as age, overall health, and tolerance for discomfort. 

In some cases, a combination of full-time and nighttime bracing may be recommended.

How to Choose the Right Back Brace for You

There are many different types of back braces, and choosing the right one can be a challenge. 

The first and most important step is to consult with your doctor or orthopedic specialist. They will be able to evaluate your condition and recommend the best type of back brace for you. After this, there are still some factors that you need to consider:​

  • General information like age, weight, height, the severity of your condition, and the type of scoliosis you have. 
  • How often will you need to wear the brace? A less bulky brace may be more comfortable if you only need it occasionally. However, a more supportive brace may be necessary if you need to wear it all day. 
  • Your budget. Back braces can range in price from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs without breaking the bank. 

Get The Treatment You Deserve

We hope that you have found our guide helpful. If you’re still unsure which brace is best for you, or if you would like more information on treatment options, book an appointment with our professionals.

They’ll help you determine the best treatment course based on your situation.