Bracing is the most common treatment for scoliosis, and is typically prescribed if the Cobb angle is around 20 or 30 degrees. The purpose of wearing a brace is to reduce the risk that the scoliosis will worsen.
Types of Braces
There are many different types of scoliosis braces. The most common scoliosis brace used in the United States is the Boston brace. In Europe, the Chêneau brace is widely considered the standard scoliosis brace, and many new scoliosis braces are based around its design. Other types of braces include night-time braces (such as the Charleston brace or the Providence brace), and soft braces (also called dynamic braces) such as the SpineCorTM brace. An excellent research article was published in 2014 detailing the most popular scoliosis braces from around the world.
Wearing a Brace
Many experts believe if a brace is worn for at least 13 hours every day (and preferably as much as 16 or even 23 hours), bracing can prevent the Cobb angle from progressing to surgical levels.
There are a few concerns with scoliosis bracing shared by many doctors and scientists.
Braces aren’t worn as often as prescribed
Some teenagers do not enjoy wearing a brace. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, and sometimes getting a teenager to wear a brace for the necessary amount of time can be difficult. Some feel the emotional consequences outweigh the physical benefits.
Braces only prevent scoliosis from worsening
The purpose of bracing is not to correct the scoliosis, but to stop it from getting worse. Wearing a brace does not always improve the appearance of the body after it’s removed. There is also no guarantee problems related to the scoliosis – such as headaches, pain, or sleeplessness – will improve by wearing a brace.
Braces can negatively affect daily life
Wearing a brace can make it difficult to breathe, and this in turn can make it harder to exercise. In some cases, bracing can cause pain or discomfort as well.
The CLEAR Approach
The CLEAR Scoliosis Institute has put a great deal of time and effort into developing an alternative method of helping people with scoliosis. CLEAR Scoliosis treatment does not typically involve the use of a brace. Since a brace can interfere with the purpose of the CLEAR therapies, we do not usually recommend patients wear one while undergoing treatment.