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A kyphosis brace is a type of orthotic brace prescribed by a doctor for treatment of the spinal condition known as kyphosis, which leads to an exaggerated curve of the thoracic spine, sometimes accompanied by a concave curve of the lower spine known as lordosis. A kyphosis brace is often made of rigid plastic, though smaller versions are occasionally made of cloth straps and bars that press into the chest and the back. A brace such as this may be worn simply as a treatment for kyphosis, or it may be worn after surgery to restrict movement in the spine while it heals.
Bracing is a common treatment for spinal conditions such as scoliosis and kyphosis, in which a curvature of the spine will often become apparent in early adolescence. This curve may be due to a structural deformity, in which the spinal vertebrae do not form correctly, or it may be due to poor posture. In the case of structural kyphosis, bracing is often not particularly effective at reversing the curve, but it can often prevent the curve from progressing any further. In addition, a kyphosis brace is not often used for postural kyphosis, except in the most severe cases, because it will only serve to weaken the muscles of the spine that are necessary to improve the posture.
A rigid kyphosis brace typically reaches from the upper chest just under the collarbone down to the hips; this is because this spinal condition typically affects the entire spine. Some braces may also feature a neck component, if the neck is involved. A post-surgical kyphosis brace may also feature an upper thigh support on one side of the body; this will look like a ring that extends down from the brace and encircles the upper thigh, to prevent bending at the waist. A doctor will need to determine which type of kyphosis brace is appropriate for each individual case.
If a doctor prescribes a kyphosis brace to treat the condition, it will generally also be accompanied by physical therapy to strengthen the supporting muscles on either side of the spine. The brace will often need to be worn all day long, except when it is taken off to shower. It is important to follow the doctor's instructions when wearing the kyphosis brace, because if the condition progresses, an extensive and painful spinal surgery is often the only remaining treatment option.