View Full Version : brace question

06-27-2008, 07:34 AM
when i saw my doctor he said that i would be in a brace for 3 months after surgery. those who have had surgery, were you in a brace and if so, for how long?
avis :D

06-27-2008, 07:53 AM
Hi Avis! I wore a TLSO brace for 4-5 months after my surgery-- sitting, standing, or walking-- in other words, whenever I wasn't lying down. Of course, I could take it off when I showered. ;) It was a custom job, molded after my initial swelling went down, in the hospital.

I don't know how old you are or how long your fusion will be, but I do know that some doctors prefer that added protection and support for their post-op patients. Your doctor must think you will need that extra support-- sometimes they do because you are either older and/or you have a long fusion. I am older and had a long fusion. I know my doctor doesn't brace everyone-- just some of us lucky ones. :rolleyes: I got used to having that support and actually ached if I didn't have it on. The last month of wearing it (why I put 4-5 months) was a time of weaning off the brace-- gradually (although it didn't seem gradual enough to me at the time!) wearing it less-- 4 hours less per day each week. And my back and muscles would ache as they got used to being without that external support. Now I can't imagine wearing it... :)

There was a thread not too long ago about braces-- you might do a search and find lots of info on braces. Best wishes!

06-27-2008, 10:02 AM
Avis, I wore a brace after surgery for about 4 months, was released from wearing it, mowed the lawn at 6 months and am back in it until the swelling in my lower back goes down. It really isn't so bad wearing it, just a pain in the *** more than anything. The hard part was learning how to put it on while still in bed and then later learning how to put it on in bed by myself! I found that it was more comfortable to drive and sit in hard chairs with the brace than without it. Protection on that tender scar tissue! I always wore mine over my clothes. It is a 2 piece job that was not custom made. Looks like 2 halves of a shell with lots of velcro. I think it looks like I am ready to strap on the bass drum and join the marching band! BTW I have a very long fusion, 15 vertebrae. Good Luck!

Diane BCSW
06-27-2008, 01:06 PM
Avis, when is your surgery? (I apologize, this is the first time I've been in this section; I usually go straight to the revisions) I've been put into a brace all five times. I think my first brace was more of a laceup and the laces ran around the hooks. It was a little bit on the light side. Following the 2nd surgery (1st revision) I was laying in the hospital bed and these ladies showed up, telling me my doctor had ordered a brace. I'm not positive of its name, Susie is so much more technical with her terms, but think that it was a TLSO. They pulled some sort of body stocking onto me, then covered me with mud, making a cast. The next day they brought the brace in and put it on me, showing me how to do it, which is quite simple. You just leave one side of it fastened, and only fasten the other side, in my case, the right side. It has velcro straps that fasten to metal devices. I always laughed about that first hard body shell-like brace, because they made the cast with me laying flat on my back, and there were hardly any boob areas. I used that brace afterwards for one other surgery, but then on that long stretch, I put the braces in a thick plastic bag, and lost them of course. I had another new TLSO made in September, but was fitted for it as I was standing up. So the boob areas are more true to life.

Good luck to you Avis.

06-27-2008, 01:24 PM
Diane--you had me laughing about your "boob" predicament! And yes, lying flat on your back practically makes them disappear-- at least for some of us! I didn't have that problem because mine had a big cut-out area for them. :D And welcome to this section!!!

Avis--I'm going to include the link to that post where Geish and I posted pics of braces-- a picture is sooooo much more enlightening than words can be when you're talkin' braces! So now you'll be able to picture Geish with her bass drum/marching band type brace-- and me and others with our ugly (wear it under your clothes but over a T-shirt) plastic ones... plus you can read what others already said about braces. When I got the link, I looked to see which posts had the pics, but promptly forgot... it's either 9&10 or 10&11.

Of course, I think there are many other kinds of braces-- and the extent of your brace will be dependent on the length of your fusion too. Best wishes-- and let us know what kind you're going to be getting. You'll get through it ok-- it just may take a little getting used to, but really-- so would your back without one, after that surgery. ;)

07-07-2008, 01:37 PM
thanks for the replies. i guess everyone gets a brace after surgery. after my fusion a couple of years ago I had a brace that i wore which was supposed to stimulate fusion. it was a ridiculous thing that cost me too much money even with insurance paying for some. i guess these braces hold you together so that's quite different. i am still working on getting a doctor but i would like to do this after thanksgiving if I can make it that long, :D when i have a break from school.

07-07-2008, 02:26 PM
The first time I had surgery I did not wear any sort of brace, but it was 10 years ago and I was 15.

I am having my rods removed in November and the doc told me I will have to wear some sort of corset after the surgery.

07-07-2008, 02:36 PM
Avis-- I think you may have misunderstood-- lots of people don't wear braces after this surgery. It depends on many factors-- surgeon preference for one, but also length of fusion, bone strength, frailty, other risks, etc. Just depends on if your fusion and your body need extra support or protection or not. I think, since all the responders were brace-wearers, you may have understandably come to the conclusion that everyone gets braced-- but they don't. I don't know if they're lucky or not. I think I really needed mine! ;)

07-07-2008, 06:26 PM
thanks for the replies. i guess everyone gets a brace after surgery.


Although it always depends on the doctor, rarely are thoracic only fusion patients braced after surgery: The ribcage acts as a "natural" brace, plus *very* little bending (compared to the lumbar region) is done in the thoracic area.

Pam (fused T4-L1 ... no brace)

07-07-2008, 06:50 PM
I wore a brace...and still am! I am about 7 weeks post op and will wear it for another 5 weeks!

My surgery was T1 to L1 hope that helps!

07-07-2008, 07:00 PM
I wore a brace...and still am! I am about 7 weeks post op and will wear it for another 5 weeks!

My surgery was T1 to L1 hope that helps!

mmw ... just curious ...

Were there some extenuating circumstances that facilitated a brace?


07-07-2008, 10:59 PM
As far as I know, it's standard procedure from Dr. Shelokov.
The brace that I wear is this one.


07-08-2008, 10:32 AM

Of course all doctors are different (the one constant - LOL!), but I've always found varying opinions on topics like bracing after thoracic fusion odd ... especially when it looks like this particular brace (vs. others I've seen) only provides lumbar support.

And, wow ... T1 is waaaaaay up there! Was your apex just really high or were there other issues (stenosis, disc problems, etc.)? I'm not sure I've seen many - if any - fusions starting that high.

How does Shelokov anticipate that will affect the ability to turn your head afterwards?

Hope you're doing well, and good luck in recovery :).


07-08-2008, 10:58 AM
So far I have not had any issues with turning my head too much. There is some times I have to watch myself because I cannot fully turn to the left. Honestly I was NEVER told a fusion starting at T1 would cause difficulty to turning my head, I never put those together.

My curve was higher up, and I was having difficulties with my rib cage..my curve had started to progress at the rate of almost a whole degree a month in the last 10 months before my surgery. My breathing had become labored at night and I was having issues with my rib cage getting "stuck" in place at different times of the day. I also had disc degeneration in my lumbar area, in L2 -L4, and it was worsening as well.

But this is where my curve was.


07-08-2008, 11:07 AM
Pam-- I don't know about Avis, of course, and how it will affect her, but mine starts at T2 and I don't think it affects my turning my head at all-- or not very much anyway. I'm pretty sure I can turn my head at least close to 90 each way. One thing I've noticed though is that I can no longer get those last few drops out of a can of pop... :rolleyes: --can't quite tip my head back as far as I used to. I DO notice the limitations of turning my whole body, like when I'm driving--backing up, etc., but it still works out ok.

In my case I was developing a kyphosis problem too-- I don't have my pre-op lateral x-ray posted, but in it one can see my upper back is rounded more than it should be. I was developing that "dowager's hump"... :( Now I have a nice straight back, just the normal kyphotic curve that should be there. :)

mmw-- I can't tell how long your fusion is-- but am glad you found relief from those problems you were experiencing!

07-08-2008, 04:43 PM

I am glad to hear I am not the only one who can not drink the last sip of soda :eek: . my fusion starts at T3, but I was also fused from C4 to C6 the preveous year so I figure this has a lot to do with it.

I do have a hard time turning my head, but force myself to stretch it everyday as I'm worried I will loose what little movement I have.

07-08-2008, 07:13 PM
I am still in my brace post-op, too. Shelokov does brace all his high thoracic and cerivical surgeries. I've heard that it's mostly that the presence of the brace will help remind us what movements we are not supposed to make. But that doesn't stop me from doing after that last drop of canned Diet DP =)

07-08-2008, 07:24 PM
But this is where my curve was.


Again ... *wow!* ... amazing x-ray ...

07-08-2008, 07:42 PM
In my case I was developing a kyphosis problem too-- I don't have my pre-op lateral x-ray posted, but in it one can see my upper back is rounded more than it should be. I was developing that "dowager's hump"... :( Now I have a nice straight back, just the normal kyphotic curve that should be there.

And, funny ... mine was just the opposite - LOL. Whether is happened via nature or an almost constant attempt over 30 years to compensate for the dropped shoulder, etc., I had almost NO kyphosis. Hanson basically sculpted normal kyphosis into the rods, and it's still a bit causes a bit of fatigue because I guess I fight it. Stretching my chest wall - and across the front of my shoulders - is helping to combat that.

I have the odd sensation of "laying on rockers", for lack of a better term when I'm on a hard surface (the tanning bed, for example ... I usually do the stand up or reclining one now vs. the flat one).

Here are my pre-op and post-op saggital x-rays ... I swear it's why I only gained 1/4" - LOL!