The low back or the lumbar spine is susceptible to many injuries and pain.
Although most people use the general term low back pain (LBP) to describe all of the painful conditions of the back, these pain syndromes are in fact rather complicated because many structures in the lumbar region can cause your LBP.
Spine alignment braces, also known as back braces are a common non-surgical treatment approach for these low back pain issues.
But how does a brace actually help? And why should you ask an Orthotist to prescribe you a back brace for best results?
Keep reading as we explore these questions and the relation of a spine alignment brace to low back pain relief in detail.
What’s a Spine Alignment Brace?
Spine alignment braces are devices used to correct your misaligned back. Commonly known as a back brace, Orthotists use this to help patients with a variety of conditions and pain syndromes.
The back brace comes in several designs and for the different regions of the back; upper back (Cervico-thoracic), mid-back (thoracic) and low back (thoracic-lumbar).
But the working mechanisms of all spine alignment braces are similar. These tend to produce traction between your vertebrae [bones of the spine] to reduce tension on muscles, improve postural awareness and control, and bring your spine back into its anatomical alignment.
The spine alignment braces can be rigid, semi-rigid and flexible which your Orthotist will prescribe according to your condition.
These back braces are made of different materials. The rigid ones have vertical supports made of metal or plastic, with straps to wrap the brace around your body.
The semi-rigid and flexible spine alignment braces are commonly made of synthetic rubber and breathable mesh materials.
General Causes of Low Back Pain
For an otherwise healthy adult who has an acute complaint of low back pain, the causes are mostly lumbar muscle strains or mechanical.
Here’re some general causes of low back pain for which your Orthotist can prescribe a spine alignment brace: 1. Mechanical Low Back Pain
Bad posture while sitting, standing or lifting over time damages the muscles of the back and the vertebrae alignment.
That leads to mechanical low back pain which is aggravated by heaving lifting or long days at work. 2. Stability Issues
Spinal instability arises due to weakened bones, ligaments, muscles, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint conditions.
The muscles surrounding the spine overwork due to instability issues and that leads to a dull and constant low back pain 3. Disk Slippage or Isthmic Spondylolisthesis
Disk slippage happens when one vertebra slips over the other, commonly resulting in a small fracture as well. Patients report a deep ache in the low back in such cases.
The condition usually becomes chronic if left untreated and leads to long-term LBP. 4. Compression of Spine
A decrease in the space between the vertebrae leads to pain in the low back region. That’s also a risk factor for compression fractures that can pinch the nerves and lead to a more severe low back radiating pain. 5. Sudden Low Back Pain Due to Muscle Strain
Sometimes you tweak your back while shovelling snow or playing catch with your kids. That leads to LBP because your muscles overwork, overstretch, tear or go into spasm.
Since the lower back needs these muscles to maintain the upright posture, any damage to them leads to LBP.
How a Spine Alignment Brace Reduces Low Back Pain
Scoliosis is a major cause of LBP for which a spine alignment brace is used. This brace helps reduce the pain in such spinal deformities by forcing the spine back into its position by continuous pressure, increasing or decreasing over time.
Here’re five more ways that a spine alignment brace can reduce low back pain:1. Corrects Posture
A back brace helps maintain the spine in the correct posture and brings the spinal segments back in their original healthy alignment.
It also shifts your weight to the abdomen to unload the spine. That’s helpful to fix the inward curvature of the lumbar spine [medical terminology: Lordosis] and thus treats some of the mechanical causes of LBP. 2. Provides Stability to Structures
The rigid back brace adds stability to the spine by providing external support. That also relieves the muscles of the extra load and tension they endure due to the instability of the bony structures.
Spine alignment braces are almost always used as part of a comprehensive back treatment program. So while your Physical therapist trains the muscles of the back to increase stability, the brace helps add support and reduce pain in the meantime. 3. Limits Unusual Range of Motion
A back brace or spine alignment brace helps reduce low back pain by limiting the extreme range of motion activities and preventing any pinching of nerves by aligning the back perfectly.
Limiting motion gives time to the body to heal itself. The back brace makes sure that there’s no additional damage to the structures while also reducing pain by avoiding the motions that aggravate the LBP. 4. Provides a Favorable Environment for Healing
A back brace takes the pressure off of the strained muscles to give them ample time to heal in a favorable environment.
The spine alignment brace takes over some of the work the postural muscles perform. That reduces the low back pain and speeds up your recovery. 5. Traction
Using a rigid or dynamic spine alignment brace creates a space between the vertebrae.
That helps treat low back pain caused by compression issues. Thus the brace enables you to perform activities of daily living with ease.
It not only reduces pain significantly but also improves the quality of life.
Low back pain can be exhausting. It limits your movements and keeps you from doing the things you love.
If you’re suffering from acute or chronic LBP and need to find a solution, contact us or book an appointment with our Orthotists to get yourself checked out.
Our state-of-the-art orthotic treatment techniques using a spine alignment brace can help you get back to living your life to the fullest!
Amongst all the different types of back braces, the Boston brace is the one usually used for the treatment of kids and teens.
It’s the most widely used thoraco-lumbo-sacral- orthosis or full back brace in the United States. You need a doctors’ or an Orthotists’ prescription to wear one because it has to be specific to your case.
This article will help you understand how the Boston brace works, what the indications for use are and how much it costs. If you’re suffering from a condition for which you need a Boston brace, then this post will help answer many of the questions you might have.
Overview of the Boston Brace
The Boston brace is made of rigid polypropylene material and you wear it by wrapping it around your chest, ribs, back and hips. There’s padding inside the brace for comfort since patients have to wear it for many hours at a time.
The main purpose of the Boston brace is to keep the spinal deformities from getting any worse.
Recently, there’ve been advances in treatment technology and the most prominent one’s the Boston brace 3D. It’s a customized orthosis that provides corrective forces in all three planes and has room for rotational movements.
Although it’s a full-back brace, your Orthotist can prescribe you a region-specific brace such as the Boston Lumbar Brace or Boston Thoracic Brace based on your condition.
Working Mechanism of the Boston Brace
Just like any other spinal brace or spine alignment brace, the Boston brace works by applying steady pressure on the spine to force it back into alignment.
The Boston brace has pads on either side that are the main areas for providing a medially directed force. The location of these pressure points is decided based on the kind of spinal deformity your Orthotist wants to treat and varies from case to case.
The pads are placed in a zigzag shape (push-relief principle). If one of your pads is on the left side of the lower back, then the next pad will be on the right side and slightly above that level.
This brace is prescribed for teens, and the way a Boston brace works is that when the pads apply force to centralize the spine, the developing spine of an adolescent starts to grow towards the midline.
Your Orthotist will regularly reassess your scoliosis and measure the spinal deviations to determine if you need a better fitting Boston brace.
The Boston brace is highly effective in fixing spinal deformities. But it takes four to five years of wearing the brace to have a full recovery.
Indications of the Boston Brace
The primary indication of prescribing a Boston brace is Idiopathic Scoliosis. That’s the condition where the spine is curved sideways early on in life. It’s due to genetic factors and not the result of a bad posture or injury.
The Boston brace is indicated to correct the spinal alignment of the growing spine.
It’s used when your doctors determine that the conservative approaches will not be effective and a brace is necessary to stop the progression of the curve.
The exact size of the brace depends on your Cobb’s angle, which is in most simple terms, the level of lateral spinal deviation from the neutral position.
There’re also some contraindications to using the Boston brace. Obesity and psychological conditions such as claustrophobia are at the top of the list. There can be other factors as well which your Orthotist will tell you about after your physical examination.
Boston Brace Cost
The cost of a Boston brace varies in different areas of the United States, but the average cost is around $2,600 to $3,000. The actual price can be higher depending on which design you use such as Boston brace 3D, Jacket, Night Shift etc.
Since this treatment is a medical necessity, most insurance plans cover the cost of a Boston brace.
Complications of Using the Boston Brace Although one of the best solutions for treating Idiopathic Scoliosis, the Boston brace has several side effects which cannot be ignored.
Since it restricts the spine, there’re limitations to what kind of physical activity you can do and how much forward or backward bending is permitted while wearing the Boston brace.
Here’re some more complications to watch out for when using a Boston brace: 1. It Restricts Your Breathing
Since the Boston brace demands a snug fit around your chest and ribs, you’ll find it hard to take deep breaths. Your Orthotist might refer you to a pulmonary physical therapist for breathing exercises to counter any long-term effects.
But the restricted breathing will remain a complication as long as you’re wearing the Boston brace. It also affects the amount of physical activity you can do. 2. Effects on the Abdomen
Weak muscles, increased abdominal pressure and bowel issues are some of the complications of using the Boston brace.
A good Orthotist will provide you with ample instructions on how to use the brace and effective home exercise programs to reduce these problems. 3. Skin Issues and Perspiration
Hot and humid climates are a major issue for those who wear the Boston brace.
Proper cleaning methods and safety guidelines are helpful. But since you’re required to wear the brace for 15+ hours a day, you’ll still suffer from skin rashes, pimples, and raw skin at some point.
That complication is avoidable by staying cool, using antiperspirant creams, taking care of the skin and most importantly by understanding the warning signs.
The Boston brace is a great device to treat spinal issues in adolescents. The success rate is high and there’s evidence supporting its use for Idiopathic Scoliosis.
If the complications become too much to handle then there’re other options you can consider.
If you’re dealing with a new Boston brace or looking for alternative therapies, then reach out to us online or visit any one of our locations for an expert consultation with our Orthotists.
Our multidisciplinary teams will guide you on how to properly use a Boston brace and help you with all your queries.
Foot injuries and ankle problems are common in all age groups. From congenital conditions and athletic injuries to old age issues, your ankle and feet undergo a lot of trauma.
Arizona brace is one of the most efficient options for food and ankle bracing.
In this article, we’ll cover the nine conditions for which your Orthotist will prescribe you an Arizona brace.
What Is an Arizona Brace?
The Arizona brace is an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) prescribed to increase the stability of your ankle and reduce complications of an injury. It works by fitting inside your shoe and wrapping around your ankle and foot. The Arizona brace supports the region from all four sides and has a few different designs that you can use according to your need.
Wearing an AFO or an Arizona brace takes some getting used to, but once the training is complete patients gain their mobility back and enjoy a stable ankle.
Reasons Why Your Orthotist Will Prescribe You an Arizona Brace
Now that you know what the Arizona Brace is, let’s look at the nine conditions where your Orthotist might prescribe you one:
1. PTTD (Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction)
The Posterior Tibial Tendon is one of the most important tendons of the leg since it connects the calf muscles to the bones of the foot. Problems with this tendon lead to difficulty in walking, holding up the foot’s arch, thus reducing fall risk and, if left untreated, lead to a multitude of other foot-related problems.
An Arizona brace provides external support to the area by stabilizing the ankle of PTTD patients during walking and relieves the tendon of its function, so the tendon can heal.
2. Hindfoot Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
The Hindfoot means the posterior region of your foot or the ankle area. Degenerative changes related to inflammation and arthritis cause pain and affect your gait pattern as well as mobility.
Using an Arizona brace for Hindfoot OA provides symptomatic relief. Since it supports your joint from all sides, the brace reduces unnecessary outward (abduction) or inward (adduction) motion at the ankle joint and improves your walk.
Sinus Tarsi Syndrome is a consequence of Hindfoot arthritis. It’s where tendons impinge in a tunnel between two of the ankle bones. Arizona ankle brace helps prevent that as well.
3. Hindfoot Varus or Valgus
Hindfoot varus is a condition where the heel of your foot moves inward as compared to its midline position (line passing through the talus and the calcaneus bones). And Hindfoot valgus is the opposite with the calcaneus moves outwards or is abducted.
Your Orthotist will prescribe you Arizona foot braces for either of these conditions as a non-surgical treatment. It’ll correct the alignment of your ankle by bringing the bones and the joint towards the midline. And also prevent other conditions such as flatfoot.
4. Postural Stability in Older Population
A major reason for older individuals’ postural problems is the instability of the ankle joint and the loss of proprioceptive feedback from the foot.
An Arizona foot brace helps stabilize the area and reduces the postural sway that older people suffer from. It also contributes towards increased confidence in walking.
Due to a lack of muscle strength, the elderly have reduced postural stability. An Arizona ankle brace provides them with much needed external support. 5. Tibialis Tendonitis
Tibialis tendonitis is a condition where the posterior or anterior tibial tendon is inflamed, mostly after an injury to the area. That results in pain and an unstable gait because this muscle is responsible for holding up the arch of the foot.
When the tibial tendon is inflamed, the arch falls and produces flatfoot.
The condition takes about 8 weeks to heal properly and an Arizona ankle brace is used during that time. It takes the load off the tendon and provides additional stability. 6. Severe Pronation or Flat Foot
Pronation of the foot (inward turning) or flat feet can be a congenital condition or adult-acquired due to damage of the surrounding structures.
Although this condition doesn’t always require treatment, the Arizona foot brace is sometimes prescribed in extreme situations where the flatfoot is leading to knee problems, pain or damaging other structures. 7. Reducing Risk of Fall in Elderly
Incorrectly fitting shoes cause foot problems in people of all ages. But the older population faces more difficulty in balancing themselves while standing or walking with foot deformities. That leads to an increased risk of falls.
That’s just one of the reasons for falls in older people.
The Arizona brace for the ankle reduces foot deformities such as Hindfoot varus, flatfoot or degenerative changes and increases balance thus reduces the risk of fall. That’s a major reason why your Orthotist will prescribe you an Arizona brace. 8. Charcot Foot
People suffering from peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves of the lower limb) develop Charcot foot. It’s a condition where foot bones may break and joints may dislocate due to weakness of the entire ankle region.
There’s a risk of the entire foot being deformed due to Charcot foot. Your Orthotist will prescribe you an Arizona foot brace for this condition to avoid permanent damage to any of the foot or ankle structures. 9. Ankle, Subtalar or Midtarsal Trauma
Subtalar is a joint in the foot at the level of the ankle. And Midtarsal is the joint between the rearfoot and the midfoot. Trauma to these regions can mean dislocations, injury, fractures or any other damage.
Ankle trauma results in instability and weakness of the surrounding muscles and ligaments. The Arizona brace for the ankle helps stabilize the region.
Foot or ankle problems require prompt treatment to prevent the issues from getting worse. Our mobility is one of our key strengths and it’s difficult to function without a healthy foot.
If you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, then book a free consultation with our Orthotists to learn more about AFOs specifically the Arizona brace and get one fitted for yourself.
Back pain is a familiar problem all adults faced. Stressful work, strenuous physical activity, and bad posture are typical causes. It’s a common scenario to visit your doctor to get a prescription for ordinary back pain. But, this changes when your common back problem turns out to be a medical condition in the spine called scoliosis.
Scoliosis is most detected in late childhood and early teens. Usually, when a growth spurt is happening. However, many people don’t know that scoliosis is a severe medical condition that can develop later in life.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the backbone or spine deforms in an "S" or less commonly a "C" shape. Some noticeable signs are uneven shoulders, waist or hips, leaning to one side, and odd posture.
A physician performs diagnosis through a physical exam and studying the patient's medical history. In some cases, doctors conduct neurological exams. That is to check for muscle weakness, numbness, and abnormal reflexes. The diagnosis is usually confirmed through imaging tests. Some examples are x-ray, spinal radiograph, CT scan, or MRI.
The cause for scoliosis is still unknown, but research says it can run in the family. In a study done on 1,436 patients, 56% had one or more relatives with the condition. However, note that there are cases with no related family history.
Scoliosis in Adults
Although scoliosis is common in children and teens, adults are not exempt. Scoliosis can develop later in life, too. Although, adult scoliosis takes longer to discover since it progresses slowly. Many adults can live for many years without even noticing this condition.
Adult scoliosis occurs in patients 18 years and older. Usually, there is an abnormal side-to-side spinal curve of 10 degrees or greater.
Two common types of scoliosis can affect adults.
Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis
Adult idiopathic scoliosis is a continuation of adolescent scoliosis that has remained undetected. It may have started during your teenage years but gone unnoticed. This form of scoliosis doesn't progress until reaching adulthood. Yet, it can affect both the thoracic and lumbar portions of the spine.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis
Adult degenerative scoliosis is another form of scoliosis that starts in adulthood. Naturally, our body takes on wear and tear as we age. Our bones undergo degenerative changes making them more vulnerable and prone to injury and damages. When joints deteriorate, it can cause the spine to curve.
This form of scoliosis is most common in older adults but can also affect adults aged 50 years and younger. An estimated 60% of people over age 60 may have mild degenerative scoliosis.
Adult Scoliosis SymptomsRegardless of whether it is idiopathic or degenerative, the symptoms are pretty much similar.
According to WebMD, some adult scoliosis symptoms are:
Adult Scoliosis Treatment Options
You should seek immediate treatment once diagnosed with adult scoliosis. Scoliosis cases are easy to solve, and most don’t require surgery. With the advances of technology, treatments are less invasive, and recovery is much faster.
The following non-surgical options are available:
The best medical practitioners around the globe recommend a combination of scoliosis bracing and physical therapy. Wearing a brace demands less effort, while physical therapy is a lifelong commitment.
Both treatments can lessen the symptoms and correct a patient's musculature, holding the spine in the right place. Contrary to other medical opinions, scoliosis bracing promotes muscle memory. Thus, it helps the spine to stay in the proper position.
Arrange an examination with your doctor to find out the most suitable treatment for your medical condition.
Coping With Adult Scoliosis
Getting diagnosed with adult scoliosis can cause anxiety, fear, and discomfort. Unlike children and teens, the lifestyle of an adult involves a lot of responsibility. Work, family, and business are just some examples.
The pain and discomfort caused by scoliosis can affect a person’s routine and lifestyle. That results in insecurity, shame, and stress. So, aside from treatment, patients must seek medical help and guidance to help cope with physical, emotional, and social challenges.
Home exercises, pain medication, and support groups are accessible with the help of a doctor.
Scoliosis is a serious matter and should be treated as a family affair. Patients and their loved ones must know the symptoms, treatments, complications, and proper management to cope.
Adult Scoliosis: Key Takeaways
Scoliosis is a serious medical condition that affects millions of people, regardless of age, sex, and race.
Though a vast majority of patients are young people, scoliosis can develop later in life. Adults need to be aware of this possibility and take good care of the body by avoiding the bad habits that can result in a spine problem.
The two most common types of scoliosis in adults are:
The most common symptoms of adult scoliosis are back pain and noticeable curvature in the spine.
As soon as diagnosed, scoliosis can be treated and managed with experts and professionals in the field. Resources, treatments, and clinics are available for patients dealing with adult scoliosis.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t disregard them. Talk to a doctor immediately.
Disregarding your symptoms can worsen the condition and may result in further complications.
Remember, as the body ages, the joints become weaker, making it more susceptible to damage. Proper treatment can manage the deterioration and can stop its progress.
We’re here to help. Contact our main office to set an appointment. We provide spine check-ups, scoliosis bracing, and other related services to help patients reach recovery.
The human spine consists of many bones, muscles, white and gray matter arranged in an organized manner. In fact, it’s so amazing that your backbone can carry nearly 2000 pounds without getting crushed!
While the bones protect the spinal cord, the white and gray matter bear 31 pairs of spinal nerves. If you look closely, the spine might look straight when observed from behind and slightly curved when seen from the side. This design allows it to absorb the effects of gravity and deal with all sudden shocks.
Just like other parts of our body, even the spine isn’t free of deformities and disorders. In fact, one in every three American adults is experiencing some or the other form of back pain. What’s even more startling is the stat that at least 80% of Americans will experience back issues in their lifetime.
Let’s look at how these issues are caused.
How Are They Caused?
We often hear complaints of back pain from people who indulge in sports and adventure. However, some more common reasons include incorrect sleeping positions, heavy lifting, and performing repetitive tasks.
These activities may lead to issues such as:
That isn’t an exhaustive list, but most problems related to the back can be associated with one of the above causes. So, how do we discover the difference between momentary back pain due to exertion and a severe spinal issue?
What Are the Types of Spine Disorders?
We have listed the most prevalent spine disorders, their symptoms, and ways to treat them in this section.
It’s commonly called a hunchback or a flat back due to the excessive curvature of the spine. There are multiple types of kyphosis - some are easily correctable, while are others might require surgical intervention. The condition can easily be treated if detected and addressed during childhood.
The symptoms of Kyphosis include back stiffness, a visible curvature, and rounded shoulders.
Postural kyphosis can be corrected using physical therapy and by making conscious efforts to correct posture. Scheuermann’s kyphosis or post-traumatic kyphosis require surgery or a brace
Of late, this notorious condition is wreaking havoc in the lives of American children. It occurs when the angle of sideways curvature is more than 10 degrees. This is determined using the Cobb angle calculation. Depending on the angle it is classified into mild, moderate, and severe.
Scoliosis is progressive. The curvature may increase steadily over the years if not treated in the early stages.
In recent times, scoliosis braces and chiropractic methods have gained traction among those with scoliosis. When there is rapid deterioration, you may require spinal fusion surgery along with a scoliosis brace for post-operative care
3. Disc Herniation
It’s called a hernia when an organ or a tissue in your body protrudes through a cavity. And as the name suggests, disc herniation occurs when the cushiony layer between the vertebrae pushes out.
Herniated lumbar disc is a popular term in the context of slipped discs. This is because the lumbar spine has more stress than any other part of the spine. There are other similar conditions like thoracic and cervical disc herniations.
Physical therapy and pain management sessions should be the first course of action. If the situation doesn’t improve, you might require an invasive procedure to remove the herniated portion.
There’s a tiny bone in your spine named ‘pars interarticularis.’ Spondylolysis is the condition that occurs when this bone experiences stress fractures.
It usually occurs in people who have a weak vertebra due to genes or repeated injuries. While the common symptoms include muscle strain and lower back pain, it often shows up in the body without symptoms.
An ample amount of rest and few physical therapy sessions do the trick most of the time. If the condition aggravates, you might require steroids and pain-relief medication.
The sciatic nerve passes through your lower back down to the legs. Sciatica mainly occurs as an allied condition of spinal stenosis and herniated disc.
Widely known symptoms of sciatica include troubles with bowel movement and chronic lower back pain.
Self-care treatments for sciatica include the application of an ice-pack on hips and gentle stretching. Doctors might also prescribe anti-inflammatory spinal injections and therapy.
6. Spinal Stenosis
Your vertebrae form a tunnel of sorts to house various nerves known as a spinal canal. When the tunnel narrows down, there’s undue pressure on the nerves and the spinal cord leading to stenosis.
Commons among older adults, spinal stenosis is caused by arthritis, spinal tumors, or injuries. The condition might start showing with signs like foot-drop, missing sensation, and leg cramps.
Acupuncture therapy, lumbosacral orthosis, and pain-relief medication help most people with stenosis. Bone removal or widening procedures can help patients if non-surgical treatments are ineffective.
If left unattended, spinal disorders may leave a dent in your life and livelihood.
Whether you have a desk job, are a homemaker, or an adventure sports enthusiast, back issues might not spare you. Take necessary precautions and get a doctor’s appointment if you’re experiencing any chronic pain.
Looking for a WCR brace to treat scoliosis? Reach out to an experienced orthotist at the nearest Align Clinic.
Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition that occurs in which the spine develops an abnormal curve. It’s the most common type of scoliosis and can turn into a severe deformity if left unattended.
It’s a fairly common problem in American kids, but its exact prevalence isn’t apparent. A British study estimates that nearly 0.5-5% of the world population has it in some form or other.
The word ‘idiopathic’ signifies that there is no definite cause for its occurrence. Extensive studies have shown that girls are ten times more prone to it than boys.
A mild instance of idiopathic scoliosis only requires close monitoring. But, one might need a scoliosis brace if things take a turn for the worse.
When Does It Occur?
While idiopathic scoliosis occurs in people of all ages, it’s commonly observed in children. It’s termed early-onset scoliosis when detected at a young age and accompanied by other health conditions.
There are three types of idiopathic scoliosis.
In most cases, early detection and treatment can prevent the condition from becoming more severe. It’s best to treat the condition before the adolescent growth spurt.
How Does Bracing Help in the Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis?
According to many studies, the usage of a scoliosis brace is crucial to reduce the chance of developing a severe spinal deformity. The brace is designed to help maintain body alignment and improve balance during children’s growth.
BrAIST (Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial) confirms that early bracing treatment is among the best non-operative methods to cure scoliosis.
If a scoliosis curve is 50 degrees or more at the time of skeletal maturity, it may continue to progress throughout adulthood. These curves tend to cause a severe deformity that requires surgery.
The goal of using a scoliosis brace for adults or children is to avoid surgical procedures. It’s done either by stopping curve progression or preventing it from reaching 50 degrees before skeletal maturity.
Bracing treatment increases pressure on the spine to relieve the load on the inner part of the curvature. At the same time, it increases the load on the outer part of the curve. This doesn’t let the bone experiencing compression grow and instead gives the deviating bone room to grow.
Who Are the Ideal Candidates for Bracing?
Doctors recommend scoliosis bracing for children who are still in the growth phase and have a curvature of 25 degrees or more.
Before prescribing an orthosis, orthopedists will check to ensure that a child isn't too far along in the growth process. They may measure a child's height, ask questions about a girl's periods, or take X-rays to determine if a brace will help your child.
Each child's body and bone curvature is unique, so a scoliosis brace can only be made to order. You will require the services of an orthotist to get the brace designed and checked.
It’s worth noting that the bracing treatment won't help if a curve is too big (usually more than 40 degrees).
What Is the Right Time to Start Bracing Treatment?
Cobb angle is a standard method to track the progress of bone formation and its curvature levels. It’s called scoliosis only if the angle of curvature is more than 10 degrees. This can be determined with a simple spine X-ray and some math.
Doctors might want to monitor development when the Cobb angle is more than 10 degrees but less than 25 degrees. After four to six months, another X-ray is recommended to check if the curve is progressing.
A scoliosis brace is prescribed when certain objective conditions are met.
Your doctor is unlikely to prescribe a scoliosis brace if your kid is nearing or at full skeletal maturity.
What are the Challenges of Using a Brace?
Making your little one wear a medical device throughout the day can be quite the task, for starters. They might flat out refuse to wear one or make excuses to remove it. Even after they embrace the brace, other problems may creep in.
Braces are designed to fit the body perfectly. As a result, kids complain of not breathing correctly or feeling stuffy while wearing one. Factors like friction and accumulation of sweat often lead to rashes or skin irritation.
You can overcome these challenges by encouraging your kid, regular maintenance, and following best practices. More importantly, visit your orthotist immediately if you think that the brace is ill-fitted or you see signs of a tear.
It’s essential to get the opinion of your orthopedist or physical therapist before starting with a bracing regimen. If you’re prescribed to wear a scoliosis brace, ensure that you follow through diligently since it’s the key to prevent surgery.
Are you worried about dealing with scoliosis as an adult? Here’s a blog post that lays out the treatment options and coping mechanisms.
Starting your orthosis journey can leave you with many questions. The most important one of which is how do I find a great Orthotist?
Although it may be convenient to go to the nearest or cheapest one, you should take your time to consider other factors before choosing your Orthotist. Such as how well they can understand your needs or how proficient they are at providing your specific treatment.
There are some steps you can take to narrow down the list of Orthotists in your area. But eventually, you’ll have to visit a few Orthotists before committing to one.
Here’re nine things to consider when looking for an Orthotist.
1. Ask for Referrals
You should ask your trusted primary care physician which Orthotist they recommend. Word of mouth and online reviews on the clinic’s website, including yelp reviews, are also helpful in choosing an orthotic clinic.
Patients going through a similar situation as yours can give you insight into your particular situation based on their experiences.
If there isn’t enough information available online about your clinician, then don’t worry. Many other factors will help you find a great Orthotist.
2. A Professional Setup
Your Orthotist must have a proper office with all the necessary equipment. Waiting on your braces or facing delays because your Orthotist doesn’t have the setup to make your orthosis will be very irritating and disruptive to your recovery.
An Orthotist who is professionally connected to others in the industry will provide you with easier access to specialist consultation outside of their field.
Your Orthotist should be compassionate and kind. It’s easy to get desensitized to the pain of the patients and their feelings when you see them every day. But a great Orthotist is the one who can always empathize with you and offer you comfort when you need it.
Your Orthotists’ good bedside manners will go a long way in helping you deal with the anxiety of orthosis fittings.
4. Knowledgeable and Experienced
Competence and skill are essential qualities you should check in an Orthotist. Get a confirmation that your doctor has the proper license to practice.
Usually, the clinics will tell you about the degrees and licenses of your Orthotists, so be sure to check their website or online profiles for your peace of mind.
If an Orthotist regularly participates in research and conferences, then that’s a great sign because it means that he or she stays up-to-date with the advancements in the field.
5. Friendly and Nurturing
If you’re looking for an Orthotist for your kids, then this point becomes especially significant. Children have a hard enough time as it is dealing with orthosis, so having a doctor who’s kind and friendly to them will be a major advantage.
6. A Good Communicator
You need an Orthotist who’s attentive to your needs and personal preferences. When you leave the clinic, all your questions should’ve been answered, and only an Orthotist who’s a good listener can do that for you.
There’ll be questions that don’t even occur to you.
A good Orthotist is proactive and will tell you about all the self-care processes and other precautions you need to take with your orthosis without you having to ask them.
7. Portfolio of Similar Patients
The perfect Orthotist for you is the one who’s previously dealt with conditions similar to yours. Some things come with experience, and an Orthotist with a background in your condition will be best equipped to treat it.
If your Orthotist has an entire portfolio to show you with testimonials of satisfied patients, then that’s an excellent indicator that you’ve found a great Orthotist.
He or she should also match your preferred treatment method. For example, if you prefer to cover your bases and do many tests in each visit, your Orthotist should understand that and be on the same page as you.
Or if you appreciate an explanation for each new treatment method used, then your Orthotist should provide you with it.
8. Cost Management
Since cost will play a central part in your orthotic journey, you need to find an Orthotist who’s in-network, which means that your insurance covers your visits with the Orthotist and the cost of the prescribed orthosis.
Or, if you’re paying out of pocket and insurance is not a concern, check how many visits the entire process will take. And assess if their fees match the services they provide as compared to other clinics in your area.
9. Give Them a Visit
Even after you gather all the data, such as license information, insurance coverage, referrals, and testimonials, you can’t make your decision unless you visit the clinic and get a feel for the place.
You’ll likely have to visit your Orthotist quite a few times, so you need to feel comfortable at the clinic.
Schedule a consultation and visit them to see for yourself what the clinic is like. You can also meet other patients there who might share their experiences with the Orthotist you’re considering.
Sometimes you can’t check off each item listed above, but you should spare no effort to match as many of these qualities as possible.
The Orthotists at Align Clinic is some of the best in the field. And each one has the proper qualifications and experience to practice.
We operate clinics in three cities, including California and Texas. Reach out to us to book a consultation, and you’ll receive outstanding care from our special orthotics team at each of our locations!
Playing sports can be aggressive on your body due to rotational movements at high speeds. And thus, it leads to several injuries. That’s why orthotics have a significant role in sports rehabilitation.
The types of orthosis you receive in rehab range from simple immobilizer splints applied for a week to adjustable orthosis covering more than one joint. Almost all joints of your body, including the spine, require Orthotic treatment during recovery from a sports injury.
The primary goals for orthosis are to assist your body's healing process, protect you from further injury and restrict the range of motion of your joints.
Why Would You Need an Orthosis for Sport?
In case of a torn ligament or an unstable joint, an orthosis will restrict the motion of your body part within specified parameters. This restriction takes the load off of those body parts, allowing them to heal like in tennis elbow.
That is especially true for foot orthosis, which reduces stress fractures and overall injuries in aggressive sports. Orthosis and taping prevent excessive foot pronation (foot rolling inwards) during sports such as soccer and football.
Spinal braces help patients with scoliosis participate in different kinds of sports. This preventive measure reduces the worsening of your condition and prevents future injury. Using braces, especially Functional Foot Orthosis (FFO), improves balance and postural sway in patients recovering from an ankle injury or an unstable ankle.
When Are Sports Orthosis Prescribed?
Now that you know the different purposes of orthosis in sports rehabilitation. Let’s move on to when an orthosis is given to athletes.
Many times when there is a tear too small for surgery, your doctor or Orthotist will prescribe you a splint or a brace to stabilize the injury. That will give your body time to heal.
Athletes with shoulder instability wear a brace or an orthosis while undergoing other conservative treatment regimens to avoid surgery.
Post-op orthosis is quite common. As it helps restore the biomechanics of your body while supporting the weakened surrounding structures. You will often see athletes recovering from shoulder or knee surgery and sitting on the sidelines with an orthosis.
Protection from an orthosis is as essential for recovery as the surgery itself.
Your Orthotist can also prescribe an orthosis for continuous protection of your body structures. Some athletes wear an orthosis even while they play. That is for additional stabilization of a previously injured area.
It’s commonly seen in relatively older athletes who have suffered multiple injuries to the same region. Such as runners who need a lifelong customized shoe support orthosis due to overuse injuries or repetitive wrist injuries requiring splints or a brace.
Examples of Orthoses Use in Sports Rehabilitation Athletes can sustain injuries to almost any body part, but most commonly, they are in the joint areas. Orthoses are used for different regions from the shoulder down to the ankle.
Here are some examples of how sports rehabilitation and orthosis use are integrated.
Rotational injuries and rotator cuff tears are common in baseball and volleyball athletes. During their recovery, slings, functional orthosis, post-op orthosis, and others are used based on individual needs.
These help with stability and redistributing pressure while providing a limited range. Shoulder orthosis and immobilizers are also used to heal clavicle injuries and fractures.
The most common elbow problems in sports are overuse injuries. Golf and tennis players suffer them the most.
As a treatment for such a sports injury, you’ll receive a compression orthosis to relieve the pain by taking the pressure off of the inflamed space around the tendon.
Carpal tunnel syndrome and torn finger ligaments are seen in athletes who take impact directly on their hands, such as in basketball and gymnastics.
Splints and rigid orthosis are provided during their rehab because unnecessary movements on already affected structures can be significantly damaging.
The knee is by far the most commonly injured joint in sports. Athletes involved in sports from running to long jumping and everything in between regularly suffer from ACL tears, meniscus tears, and fractures.
There’re different orthoses for knee rehabilitation after sports injuries, including patella stabilizers, neoprene sleeves, immobilizers, and functional knee braces.
The ankle has many supporting structures around it and many ligaments. An injury to any one of these moving parts results in an unstable ankle. Ankle sprains and fractures are frequent in sports that require agility and swift change in positions such as basketball, football, and soccer.
Rolling your ankle can result in torn ligaments. A doctor will provide you with an orthosis to stabilize the joint and create a supportive environment to return to activity. These include rigid or dynamic AFOs, Supramalleolar Orthosis, and others.
Each sport comes with its challenges. Contact sports result in knee and shoulder injuries, whereas golfers and tennis players suffer many elbow problems.
Since orthosis is a device that improves function, provides support, and fixes alignment of the body structures, there is a significant role of orthoses in sports rehabilitation.
If you’re looking for a licensed and experienced Orthotist to help you with your rehab, then visit us at Align Clinic for a consultation. Our Orthotists have years of experience, and we can help you get back to playing the sport your love.
The first meeting with an Orthotist is an important one. It’s where you sit with the team to discuss the details of your orthosis. Since you’ll be coming back for many checkups after this initial meeting, it’s wise to get your most vital questions out of the way in the beginning.
There’re many questions you must ask when you first meet with the Orthotist. Such as how should I care for the orthosis? Can I shower with it? What clothing considerations do I have to think about? And so on.
Well, the good news is that your Orthotist will tell you about most of these things without you having to ask them. But still, it’s best to have a general idea of what you should discuss with your orthosis.
Here is a list of five such questions you should ask your Orthotists, based on our many years of clinical experience.
1. How Long Will the Adjustment Take?
Getting used to a new orthosis takes time. And if it’s your first time getting one fitted, then you should get an estimate of how long it’ll take until your body is adjusted to the device.
That is especially important for athletes and younger patients. Since their physical activity levels are above-average and the orthosis will cause some restrictions to their movements. But that does not mean that they can’t run around the playground or ride a bike because of it.
Many of our patients are active in different sports such as mountain biking, volleyball, and surfing, to name a few.
Nevertheless, have an open conversation with your Orthotist to get an idea of how long the adjustment period will be. And prepare accordingly.
Moreover, you should ask for a timeline for when you can potentially take off the orthosis for good (if your condition is temporary). Orthotist will look at your scans and manually assess you to create a prognosis.
2. How Much Will It Cost?
Most times, an off-the-shelf orthosis will fit your needs just fine, especially if you need it for a small amount of time, such as after an ACL tear or surgery.
A custom orthosis is more suitable for long-term orthosis, such as scoliosis or an AFO for your child.
Your Orthotist is the best judge of what kind of device is the best fit for you. Make sure you discuss co-pay options or your insurance packages with the Orthotist and factor that into the decision.
Cost is a significant factor that affects future care. So this question is vital for the long term.
Your Orthotist or the clinic may also guide you on alternative payment options.
3. How Does Bracing Work?
This question is essential for your peace of mind.
Your primary care physician may not be able to tell you in detail how an orthosis will help your condition.
But an Orthotist is a specialist dealing with the fitting of braces and other orthoses. They can explain to you exactly why you need it and how the device will work to improve your condition.
When you know how the orthosis works, you can better set your expectations.
A spinal brace is there to ensure the condition doesn’t worsen in some cases. And other treatments fix your scoliosis. Learning this information will make it easier for you to wear the brace despite some initial discomfort.
Knowing how the orthosis works are essential for you to understand your condition in detail.
If you want to know more about the purpose of an orthosis and how it works, then book a consultation with us. We have a team of certified Orthotists with years of experience ready to help you with your bracing needs.
4. How Long Will the Orthosis Last?
An Orthotist will either show you or discuss the different orthosis types during your visit. The orthoses come in various designs and other materials suitable for several purposes.
It’s wise to ask about the durability of each one. Some will wear out much quicker than others, depending on the environment, humidity levels and use.
You should ask about signs of damage to the orthosis, when you should come back for a new one, and how to care for it.
5. What Are the Possible Complications I Should Expect?
Even though every licensed Orthotist will tell you about the complications of the orthosis, you should still feel free to talk about your fears and clarify all your concerns.
Complications vary from person to person, depending on the type of orthosis, potential allergies, and many other factors.
Orthotists are trained to assess the risks and potential complications to employ preventive measures properly. They’re best equipped to answer your questions, no matter how specific they may be.
The five questions mentioned above will help you cover your bases. But there may be more questions that are personal to you.
For instance, if you have a busy schedule, you might want to ask about the average number of appointments so that you can make alternate arrangements.
You may want to ask for recommended support groups because the orthosis journey can become difficult.
The main point is that you use your first meeting with an Orthotist to learn about the steps involved in the fitting and training for the use of orthosis.
You can reach out to us at any one of our locations for a free expert consultation from our Orthotists.
Scoliosis is a serious medical condition that affects people of all ages. Ever since its discovery in the 5th century, medical practitioners worldwide continue to conduct studies searching for a cure.
Until today, there is still no known cure for scoliosis. However, as technology advances, many various treatments have become available to slow down the progress, manage the pain, and improve a patient’s quality of life.
Through careful consideration of a patient’s case and physical maturity, doctors recommend the best suitable treatment. And more often than not, Schroth therapy ranks the list in terms of effectiveness.
What is Schroth Therapy?
Schroth therapy consists of custom exercises based on a patient’s curve pattern. It’s a nonsurgical treatment aiming to improve the spine’s alignment to prevent pain and curve progression.
Schroth therapy was named after Katherina Schroth, a german physicist who also had scoliosis. She used her body as a test case to design the method to formulate exercises and breathing techniques. Though the therapy has already evolved over the years, the principles on postural corrections remain the same.
Schroth therapy has three essential components that follow the principles of correction. It focuses on muscular symmetry, rotational angular breathing, and postural awareness.
Essential Components of Schroth Therapy
Each patient’s scoliosis is unique.
Some exercises may work for one person, but not for another. Hence, Schroth therapy is custom-tailored to a scoliosis patient’s unique case.
A certified Schroth physical therapist or specialist tailor guides a patient in applying the three essential components. These are muscle symmetry, rotational breathing, and posture awareness.
Each component has a specific goal and set of exercises that you can perform during a physical therapy session or at home. Make sure to consult with a certified Schroth practitioner first before performing any activities at home.
1. Muscle Symmetry
The muscles are badly affected as the curve progresses. The imbalance makes the muscles disproportioned and overworked, leading to more harm than good.
Schroth therapy aims to eliminate dissymmetry by strengthening the back muscles. Stability exercises such as Pilates help.
2. Rotational Breathing
Scoliosis causes the spine to rotate, leading to the rib cage’s deformity and the soft tissues around it. As a result, patients experience severe back pain and breathing problems that negatively affect their lives.
Schroth therapy eliminates the breathing difficulty caused by the spine rotation. By performing rotational and angular breathing exercises, the spinal curve can shift out of the way and improve breathing function.
3. Posture Awareness
Scoliosis can even worsen a bad posture. Posture awareness is the first, most important way to correct it.
Posture awareness is a component of Schroth therapy that teaches and enables patients to be mindful of their posture. Being fully aware helps avoid bad posture and habits as they perform different activities daily.
How Effective is Schroth Therapy?To date, there is no known cure for scoliosis that can eliminate it. Several studies, however, show that Schroth therapy is an effective treatment that prevents the condition from getting worse. It works best when combined with scoliosis bracing.
Schroth's method is proven to strengthen the back muscles, slow curve progression, improve Cobb angles, improve breathing, and decrease the need for surgery.
Here are some case studies to support this claim:
1. Decreasing Cobb’s Angle and Pain
In a case report conducted in 2016, Schroth therapy was performed on three patients. The treatment was three times a week, for 15 weeks. The patients have idiopathic scoliosis and Cobb’s angle of ≥10°.
After 15 weeks in the program, a noticeable decrease in Cobb’s angle and the pain were recorded. The findings show significant improvement compared to its previous record.
2. Improving Regression and Quality of Life for Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis
They conducted a systematic review in 2018 to determine Schroth therapy’s effectiveness on patients who have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).
The participants’ range was a mix of male and female, with ages 10 and 19 and a cobb’s angle of ≥10°. They were split into two groups. A physiotherapist supervised the first group while the second group performed the Schroth exercises at home.
After a 12-week and a 24-week observation period, results showed that Schroth therapy dramatically impacts regression of the Cobb angle. And the quality of life.
3. Schroth therapy during bracing
A preliminary study was conducted in 2017 to determine if Schroth therapy, when combined with bracing, improves AIS patients’ condition. For six months, the participants had to wear a scoliosis brace while undergoing Schroth therapy.
After six months, findings showed that Schroth therapy, combined with bracing, improved a patient’s trunk rotation, Cobb angle, and quality of life. The study concluded that Schroth therapy combined with scoliosis bracing leads to a higher Cobb angle improvement rate.
Schroth therapy is a practical, non-invasive treatment for patients dealing with scoliosis. Though Schroth therapy doesn’t cure the spine problem entirely, it does the job of preventing further curve progression and promoting spinal balance and stability.
Many studies prove that the application of Schroth therapy, whether as a stand-alone treatment or combined treatment with scoliosis bracing, significantly decreases the pain and Cobb’s angle.
Children, adolescents, and adults who have scoliosis greatly benefit from Schroth therapy. A certified Schroth practitioner guides patients to perform exercises based on their unique spinal curve pattern.
It’s best to visit a clinic to attend physical therapy sessions. When not available, doctors can recommend specific exercises to encourage patients to workout at home.
Make sure to consult with a certified Schroth practitioner first before performing any home workouts, as each case of scoliosis is unique.
Some exercises may or may not work, depending on the severity of the case. A wrong approach can lead to harm. Hence, you must observe strict guidance from a certified Schroth professional.
For consultations, questions, and support, contact us.
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