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Patient Information

Spinal Brace

What is a spinal brace / orthosis?

A spinal orthosis is a brace designed to control the movement of the back. Spinal braces are made of various materials. This will be chosen based on your clinical needs.

Wearing the spinal brace

It is important that the spinal brace is fitted as instructed by the Orthotist.

It is advised that the brace is worn over a vest or snug fitting t-shirt for comfort and as an interface between the skin and brace material. Girls can wear a bra underneath the brace, often with under-wiring removed.

It is advised that, preferably, the brace be applied whilst lying down or alternatively by standing up and bending your hips and knees.

When putting the brace on, it is very important that the waist area of the brace aligns exactly into the patient’s waist and that the opening is centred appropriately.

The brace should be fastened initially at the middle strap and then top and bottom straps. It is important that these straps are fastened firmly to provide a snug fit in order for the brace to be effective and to reduce likelihood of skin abrasions.

Breaking in period

Over a period of 2-3 weeks, gradually increase the time per day in your orthosis. Once you have built this time up the goal is to wear the brace for 23 hours a day with breaks for washing and exercise.

Considerations and Skin Care

The brace should be worn in gradually so you get used to the feel of the brace.

During the breaking in period your balance may be affected by the use of spinal orthosis.

Your child may experience some general muscle aches until used to wearing the brace.

When you remove your child’s brace, always check their skin.

The brace will leave red marks on your child’s skin as it is close fitting. The skin will gradually build up resistance to the brace, especially the waist area.

Do not use greasy ointment, cream or talcum powder under the brace as they soften the skin. If lotion is used make sure the skin is dry before applying the brace.

If there are persistent areas of redness, blisters or skin breakdown then stop wearing the brace and contact the Orthotics department for review. Pink marks can be normal and should fade after 30 minutes upon removal.

To prevent skin breakdown – always wear a tight-fitting top with sleeves under the brace and change it regularly especially if it is sweaty. Wear the brace as tight as possible as a loose orthosis may allow excessive movement creating rubs and abrasions.

Sometimes the skin over the waist and hips gets darker. This is common and is not a problem. When the orthosis treatment is complete, the discoloration will fade.


Although exercise programs have not been shown to affect the natural history of scoliosis, exercise is encouraged in patients with scoliosis to minimize any potential decrease in functional ability over time.

It is very important for all people, including those with scoliosis, to exercise and remain physically fit. Exercising and participating in sports also improves a general sense of wellbeing.

The purpose of exercises is to develop postural awareness and gain ability to maintain correct alignment both in and out of the brace.

They help maintain flexibility and muscle strength in areas that have a direct effect on brace fit. When exercising and participating in sports the patient does NOT wear the brace.

Cleaning of the brace

You should clean the brace daily with a damp cloth and soapy water. Wipe and dry completely before putting the brace on your child. Alcohol wipes may be used to disinfect the brace and lining. The straps and padding may become worn and can be replaced

Your child growing

Although all spinal braces are different and individually made to suit your child, they share similar warning signs that indicate that the brace may be becoming outgrown. The lifespan of a brace may be between 6 and 18 months and is dependent upon your child’s rate of growth. Warning signs include:

• Increased incidence or prolonged signs of rubbing and skin irritation particularly on bony prominences.

• Increased opening gap and difficulty to fasten straps as firmly as instructed.

• Increased clearance of the legs and arms from the bottom and top edges of the brace.

• Complaints of discomfort from the brace

If you think your child is outgrowing the brace please contact the Orthotics department. It takes approximately eight weeks to replace your brace so please call in plenty of time.

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital | T: 0121 685 4000 |