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Brace (orthotic) treatment for
scoliosis is used to prevent spinal curve progression
and to maintain the appearance of the back.
The goal of brace treatment is to prevent the curve from getting
worse. Bracing does not correct a curve. There may be some initial
straightening of the spine and the appearance of correction when a brace is
applied. But in most cases, after the child stops wearing the brace, this
correction is lost and the curve returns to its original shape.
In most cases, any correction of the curve that occurred during
bracing is lost, and the curve returns to its original shape after bracing is
Brace treatment is used for a child who is still growing to prevent
progression of moderate spinal curves. Brace treatment is usually
continued until the child's skeleton stops growing.
Two common types of braces include the:
Braces are not effective for curves greater than 45 degrees.
Most research on using braces for scoliosis has focused on idiopathic scoliosis. In general, the research shows that braces can be effective for preventing curves from getting worse. The more the child wears the brace, the more effective the brace can be.
Braces are generally effective in providing immediate control of
curves1. When a brace is first applied, a significant correction is often seen.
But after the child stops wearing the brace, the curve usually
Although bracing does not always prevent a spinal curve from
getting worse, the best results occur when:
Complications of bracing therapy include:
Children who wear braces are examined by a doctor regularly (such
as every 3 months or 6 months or more frequently if problems arise) to monitor
the effects of the brace.
A child who has a severe forward curve in his or her upper back in
addition to scoliosis may not be well suited for bracing.
Children can ride a bicycle, play tennis, run, and jump while
wearing a brace. But they should not participate in activities such as
horseback riding, skiing, skating, and gymnastics while wearing a brace.
Because wearing a brace makes many physical activities difficult, children or
teens are typically advised to remove their braces when they participate in
activities such as physical education classes.
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Weinstein SL, et al. (2013). Effects of bracing in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(16): 1512–1521.
Other Works Consulted
Negrini S, et al. (2010). Braces for idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
Rowe DE (2003). The Scoliosis Research Society Brace Manual. Available online: http://www.srs.org/professionals/education_materials/SRS_bracing_manual/section1.pdf.
Spiegel DA, Dormans JP (2011). Idiopathic scoliosis. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 2365–2368. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of:
February 5, 2014
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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