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Q: Why do we brace joints?
A: The main reason we are going to use a brace on a joint is to protect it. That being said the most common times we will recommend a brace is for an acute injury, post surgical, or even for a chronic issue. When a joint gets injured it will naturally limit its range of motion. That’s exactly what the brace will help with because it will help take the load off the joint while the tissue begins to heal.
Q: Can bracing help with my pain?
A: Absolutely it can. A study done in 2009 looked at 197 patients with acute low back pain. At day 90 the patients that were braced had a 25% greater decrease in pain compared to the non-braced group. The amazing thing about this was that not only did their pain significantly decrease but at the end of 90 days the medication consumption significantly decreased in 60.8% of the braced patients, compared to only 40% in the non-braced patients. So, not only will bracing help reduce pain but overall and with proper use it can help you come off pain medication sooner!
Q: Won’t a back brace make me weaker?
A: This is a very common misconception. But, the reality is that there is no scientific evidence that shows this being true. In fact, the exact the opposite has been true. A recent study showed that wearing a back brace for just two hours a day for six months actually increased back extensor strength by 73% and increased abdominal flexor strength by 58%. The brace is only semi-rigid so this only reduces motion, it does not eliminate it. Therefore, trunk muscles actually remain active and the load on the spine is distributed to the semi-rigid cylinder.
Q: What kind of brace should I use?
A: There are a wide variety of braces, all of which have their own benefits. However, some of the newest braces out there have some incredible capabilities. Knee braces by the company, Townsend, actually have a patented hinge that mimics the roll-and-glide movement of the knee. These braces are molded and contoured to match the anatomical shape of your leg. This creates a complete shell to skin contact for the brace. This allows for more consistent control of the brace while reducing the potential for brace migration.
Q: Can a knee brace help with Osteoarthritis?
A: The Townsends braces have a remarkable ability to unload the knee. A study in 2015 showed that by unloading the knee joint detrimental forces to the knee were decreased during walking. During the study patients wore the brace for more than six hours per day. After eight weeks of wearing the brace patients were able to walk faster and with increased knee motion.
Q: Can’t I just get one over the counter?
A: This is one of the most common questions we get. Braces should be customized to your specific body. Meaning every brace should fit very specifically. The problem with borrowing a brace from a friend is that it is either not going to fit properly or it will not support you in the way it should. This is why we measure every patient when they get fitted for a brace. Each brace is fitted and ordered specifically for you and your body type.
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