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View Full Version : Has Your Brace Helped You?



ScolioGirl
04-05-2005, 03:55 PM
I'm getting a brace next week in a last ditch attempt to prevent surgery. My doctor doesn't have much hope that it will help, though. What have your experiences been with braces? Did it straighten you out or just keep the curve from worsening?

phaden
04-05-2005, 04:39 PM
Hi there:

Braces don't generally "straighten people out". Once the spine has grown curved, it pretty much stays that way (like a tree trunk that grows bent).

What the brace can do is prevent or slow progression of the curvature while your spine is growing, when it is at most risk. If the spine can be held to a small enough curve (less than 40 degrees, most doctors say) while you're growing, it often just stays steady during adulthood, and doesn't cause too many problems.

Another thing the brace can do is slow the progression enough so that a person can delay their surgery for awhile. This is what happened with my daughter. When she was diagnosed at age 12, she had two curves, 36 degrees thoracic and 30 degrees lumbar. She had barely started her adolescent growth (she was only 4' 10" and looked young for her age), and the odds were good that her spine would curve so much that surgery would be required. The doctor put her in a brace in the hopes of slowing the curvature so that she could get a bit bigger and taller before needing surgery. She went into the brace 18 months ago, and she is now scheduled for surgery on 2nd May. During that time, her curves have progressed to over 50 degrees (that's why she needs surgery now), but she's about 3 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier than she was at diagnosis. It's much better to be bigger and stronger for the surgery, so we're all pleased that we were able to get the extra time. Her surgeon feels that without the bracing she would have required the surgery as much as a full year sooner.

Bottom line: wear your brace as prescribed. It can't hurt, and it will most likely help either in holding the curve steady or slowing its progression. It's no fun of course, but you sound like strong girl, and I reckon you can do it. And, 20 years from now, you'll have a great story to tell at parties.



Cheers.

kerya
04-12-2005, 12:20 AM
Yes. I was braced for three and a half years when I was 13-16 years old. It has been 10 years since I was discharged and I'm doing fine. I have a friend who had the surgery, and I am so glad I didn't need it - bracing sucks, but it is only temporary. Spinal fusion is forever.

The brace hurt a LOT at first, but after a few days the pain subsided. I had abrasions on my hips pretty much continuously, so sometimes moving around would hurt. Don't wear a ribbed shirt under the brace. I found that I could write on it with permanant marker and it would eventually rub off. That provided me great amusement. After a few months wearing it just became routine. I only had to wear it for 16 hours a day, and I made sure my 8 hours off was well used - I was on the swim team so I always took it off during practices and wore it when I slept.

A couple of important points:
- Nobody knows you are wearing it. Really. I was so self conscious and it turned out that most of my classmates didn't even know I had scoliosis.
- It will end eventually.