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What is a Spinal Orthosis?

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  • Written By: Heidi White
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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A spinal orthosis is a brace that is placed on the outside of the body to hold the spine in a certain position, thus limiting the motion of the spine. It may be used to correct a deformity or to improve the overall function of the spine. Most are lightweight, can run on the expensive side, and are easily removable for access to the body. A spinal orthosis can be prefabricated for general use, or it can be custom-made to address a specific spinal condition.

Typically, a spinal orthosis is recommended by a physician for any number of reasons. When used properly, it can aide in pain relief, especially for people who are either recovering from a spinal surgery or after some other traumatic injury. Some congenital conditions may benefit from a spinal orthosis, such as scoliosis. This type of brace can be used to manage the condition instead of opting for invasive surgery.

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When choosing an orthosis, there are several important factors a person might consider before making a purchase. Choosing a material that is not only durable but lightweight can enhance the comfort for the patient. Adjustability is also an important factor — being able to adjust the fit will ensure increased comfort while wearing the brace, as well as provide maximum stability. The cost should be weighed as some of the braces can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Having the ability to remove and put on the apparatus with ease can be important, as is the ability to access surgical sites for care of a wound if the brace is used after a surgery.

Although the use of a spinal orthosis can be beneficial to the patient, there can also be some drawbacks to wearing one. Due to the immobilization of the spine, there can be some discomfort and localized pain. Muscles can begin to atrophy with extended use; there could also be a possibility of nerve compression. The brace can cause skin irritation, as well.

Depending on the appearance of the brace, there can be some emotional resistance to wearing it in public where others can see it. If the negative obstacles can be overcome, there can be a successful outcome when wearing a spinal orthosis. The brace can decrease pain, improve overall strength, and improve overall posture.

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