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Thread: Braces after surgery ...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,757

    Braces after surgery ...

    I keep reading about them here post op ...

    My surgeon doesn't recommend them (at least in my case), and I won't have one afterwards. I'm inclined to believe I'd become dependent on it/scared to move/sacrifice the muscles I worked so hard to gain pre-surgery.

    Are they more common with lower - or longer - fusions?
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op 53, Post-op < 20
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,978
    I think it really depends on a lot of factors--your age, your surgeon's preferences, the length of fusion, etc. People that have weak/fragile bones or really long fusions-- in other words, those who need the extra support-- are probably the main ones to need bracing. You are in such super shape that your doctor doesn't think it's something you need. That's great!

    Speaking as someone who needed bracing, just so you can understand-- in my case, it didn't cause me to be afraid to move. In fact, it gave me more confidence that I wouldn't do damage to myself, because the brace would protect me. It prevents you from accidentally bending or twisting, and gives you support. Those back muscles get severed, and it takes awhile for them to mend. My incision was 20" long, so all those muscles were cut and laid back for the surgery. When I was "weaning" off the brace, my muscles got tired so quickly, but they built up ok with time. Because I am older, I can't imagine not having had the support the brace gave me. I was done with it at 5 months, my back is doing fine now, as far as most aches and fatigue go, although it does get tired by the end of a long day... Now I can't picture wearing the brace. I think it's just a matter of who needs extra support in the early stages of recovery.

    You'll do great!
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    183
    Pam -

    I think I mentioned, my surgeon usually has patients wear a brace, but he decided during the surgery I wouldnt need it. My understanding is that I don't need a brace because 1) the hardware was very stable 2) my bone quality was good 3) the fusion and hardware are all protected by my ribcage, with the exception of L1.

    I definitely move the wrong way occasionally (and that hurts!) and think having a brace would protect me from those mishaps. Giving others a visual cue that they need to be careful around me, also has benefits. That said, I'm glad I don't need one - it will make going back to work a little less stressful!
    2000 34*L/39*T
    2007 44*L/53*T

    12.3.07 Posterior Spinal Fusion T4-T12
    (initially planned T4-L1)
    12.18.07 11*L/10*T

    23 years old

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    135
    I've heard they're more common in more complicated surgeries and in children - in those a surgeon would be worried about moving in a way that might compromise a "delicate" fusion, or in those that have a better chance of getting jostled (I'm picturing the hallway of my junior high.....)

    My doctor didn't recommend a brace for me, and I had no problems with that. I don't think I experienced as great of muscle atrophy as I would have with one. I also see that what Vndy says, that if you're fusion is primarily in an area protected by your rib cage, you have a sort of internal-brace already.
    31 year old female
    55* (day of surgery) thoracic curve w/compensatory lumbar
    T4-T12 on Aug 15, 2007

    MRI, pre-surgery
    Xray, 3 mos. post-op
    Machu Picchu, 8 mos. post-op

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    7,120
    It really depends on the surgeon. For long fusions, it seems that most Northern California doctors put their adult patients in postop braces. In kids, at least around here, it's much more variable. When the new universal implant systems were invented, the intent was not to have to brace kids. Because they're much smaller, they don't put stress on the screws and hooks the way adults can.

    --Linda

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