INFORMATION ABOUT SCOLIOSIS FOR USERS OF THE CHENEAU BRACE
Your family or doctor may have noticed that your back isn't straight, you don't stand up properly and upon close inspection, you have a bump forming in your back.
The specialist doctor that you went to see made a scoliosis diagnosis based on a physical examination and X-rays.
One of the treatments prescribed to you is a scoliosis brace. It sounds primitive doesn't it? But it really isn't!
There are several scholarly, detailed definitions available on the internet. But in summary, scoliosis is a spinal deformity. Instead of being completely vertical, the back curves to one side or the other, and often has an S-shape.
In addition, the vertebrae are also twisted relative to each other along this curvature. At the thoracic level, the ribs also become deformed because they are attached to the vertebrae.
This leads to the appearance of thoracic Gibbus deformity.
How does this deformity happen?
Other than in cases where scoliosis is secondary to another disabling disease, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis mainly affects girls and has no known causes despite numerous studies conducted throughout the world.
Some genetic component is suspected, but has not been proven. This disease reveals itself during prepubertal growth and stabilises at the end of puberty once the bones mature.
Why is scoliosis treated? If the scoliosis is not treated, the deformity will become worse and lead to situations that are not aesthetic and even worse, painful and disabling.
This brace is ugly. What will my friends say about me?
A mechanical problem has a mechanical solution. It's that simple. No pills needed. The curves and Gibbus deformity will be corrected by gentle pressure from the pads in the brace any time it is worn.
Although this seems inconvenient, you get used to it quite quickly. Given the simplicity of the treatment and great results, it's worth doing! And once your bones have stopped growing, the brace does not need to be worn any more. As for the psychological stress, you must not undergo treatment, but own it:
"I have a physiological issue, but I am not going to bury my head in the sand. I am going to be responsible and do what's necessary".
This attitude is much more beneficial and fulfilling than feeling bad about yourself. Others will accept you and respect you. Of course, this more easily said that done. But history has shown that those who adopt this mind frame have better success.
Will this reduce my scoliosis? In the brace - yes! But in the end - no. The goal is to stop the deformity from getting worse. In the vast majority of cases, the treatment works well. In other words, if the treatment is started with 20° scoliosis, the reduction in the brace will be about 10° during the treatment period, but at the end when the brace is removed, the scoliosis will stabilise around 20°. Hence it is beneficial to start the treatment as soon as possible.
For how long do I need to wear the brace? The age at which puberty ends varies from one person to another. On average, puberty ends around 15 or 16 years of age. The doctor will determine your skeletal maturing using a pelvic X-ray and the Risser scale.
DAILY WEAR OF YOUR SCOLIOSIS BRACE
Putting it on: The brace is worn over your underwear and a tight-fitting T-shirt, preferably a seamless one (special models are available for back braces).
Otherwise wear your T-shirt inside-out, so the seams are on the outside. Make sure there are no folds. Put the brace on while standing. Since it is quite stiff and cannot be opened very much, you will have to wriggle yourself into it.
However the brace is tightened while lying down! Why? Because the moulding was done with you lying down! When you lie down, the scoliosis somewhat self-corrects (since gravity does not increase the curvatures) and the volume of the abdomen is reduced, which brings the brace closer to the spine.
Taking these steps will ensure that the brace as effective as possible. Once you are lying down, flex your knees a bit, then put your hands on your hips and push the brace down so it wedges itself against the pelvis at the waist fold. Start to tighten the brace by pulling on the strap at the narrowest part of the waist.
This tightens the brace uniformly. Firm tightening will ensure that the pads rest firmly against the body. Now you can put on your regular clothes over the brace.
How do I take off this brace when I am doing sports at school? This is the only time when you will tighten the brace while standing. But make sure to suck in your stomach, stick out your chest and stand tall, like body-builders do to show off their muscles.
My brace is badly made. It's not even and it's uncomfortable under my arm. This is on purpose. The brace puts pressure on the curvatures of your spine in all three planes. Some of the padded areas have been hollowed out while others have been expanded for greater volume to allow room for the torso to move during the correction. When seen from the back, the brace has an S-shape that is opposite to the scoliosis. From the front, the stomach and chest areas are either expanded or compressed to affect the vertebral rotation. Each pad has two opposing counter-pressure pads, otherwise the spine would not straighten itself out. This is why there is the counter-pressure pad is higher under one arm, on the opposite side to the thoracic pad. (The inferior counter-pressure is achieved with a lumbar or pelvis pad, depending on the specific scoliosis geometry).
Daytime wear: Once you have put the brace on, you can go about your day normally. But after some time, you will notice that the brace starts to sink down and the pads become progressively heavier.
At this point, you have to reset your body inside the brace by wriggling left and right like a lizard and by standing tall to get way from the pads.
Once the pressure is relieved, you can relax. The next time this happens, just repeat the same steps. By actively readjusting yourself in your scoliosis brace, the treatment will be more effective.
It turns out that the effect of the pads on the curvature is not sufficient. It needs to be supplemented by the muscular work brought about by your active readjustment manoeuvres. There are three members of the scoliosis combat team: the brace with its pads, your own wiggling in the brace, and the physiotherapist who massages and works on your back.
Night-time wear: There is nothing to worry about. If one of the pads is irritating you, turn over to the other side to relieve the pressure.
Make sure you follow your doctor's orders on how much time you have to wear your brace! The best results can only be obtained if you wear your brace for long periods of time. If the wear time prescribed by your doctor is not followed (even if short), it is extremely likely that nothing will happen.
There are no contraindications to wearing a scoliosis brace. It does not hinder breathing because the chest is free and there is no muscle atrophy because the muscles are activated inside the brace.
But there is one precaution: if you experience pain or bloating, gradually loosen the brace to avoid sudden expansion of the abdomen.
Reddish marks around the pads and counter-pressure points are normal and evidence that the brace is working. But this colour should be fairly uniform over the surface of each pressure point and disappear within 20-30 minutes of the brace being removed. Intensely red or purple areas, skin wounds and pain must not be ignored. The brace may need to be retouched.
But then why not put less pressure on the Gibbus deformity at the start? The effectiveness of the brace depends on the intensity of the pressure. Thus is best to start with the maximum pressure, and then to scale it back if it is too uncomfortable.
Doing the opposite would make the brace less effective. With that said, your scoliosis brace should not hurt you!
Regular monitoring visits with X-rays are performed according to the schedule defined by your doctor. Your brace might have to be adjusted, depending on the progress of the treatment or the morphology.
We wish you all the best in your fight against scoliosis. Don't forget that in the end, the scoliosis brace is thrown out. At that point, what has been won has been won, and what has been lost will remain lost.