Bracing is a nonsurgical, remedial therapy that uses a medical device called a ‘brace’ to provide support to unstable or misaligned joints or body parts.
The brace is usually made of plastic, metal, or other similar components and may be padded with synthetic rubber, foam, or other soft materials. It fastens and holds joints or body parts in the correct anatomical position.
Different types of braces are used depending on the clinical condition and the purpose to be achieved. A brace can be ready-made or customized to the patient.
When is Bracing Used?
Bracing is mainly used during:
- Management of musculoskeletal disorders
- Joint injury rehabilitation
- Joint injury prevention
- Osteoarthritic care
- Post-operative care
Purpose of Bracing
Bracing is predominantly used to:
- Immobilize your unstable joint
- Correct abnormal alignment
- Reduce pain and related issues
- Slow down the progression of the disorder
- Improve the physical function of the affected part
Bracing can also be used to treat a range of orthopedic conditions such as:
- Knee disorders
- Shoulder or arm injuries
- Foot & ankle injuries
- Elbow disorders
- Hand and wrist injuries
- Hip disorders
- Sports injuries
Benefits of Bracing
Bracing, as a therapy, has several potential benefits. The most common being:
- No unwanted movement of the unstable joint
- Minimum stress and pressure on the affected joint
- Reduced swelling (through compression)
- Less or no pain and discomfort
- Improved balance and mobility
- Enhanced stability, better healing
- Protection from further injury
- Increased confidence during daily tasks
However, bracing can come with a few limitations such as discomfort due to added weight, skin breakdown due to chafing of the skin and redness or irritation.
Additionally, excessive or continuous use of bracing can lead to chronic pain and stiffness in your joints.
Splinting: Splinting is a method of holding still and protecting a wounded body part from further damage using a rigid material called a splint. Splinting is often used to stabilize your broken bone and allow it to heal. It prevents the affected part from moving and decreases pain. Normally, splinting is for short-term use before advanced medical treatment.
Casting: Casting is a medical process used to support and protect fractured bones and joints using a ‘cast’, an orthopedic device. The cast holds in place and immobilizes your injured bone as it heals. Casts are mostly made from plaster or fiberglass. Casts are also known to help prevent or reduce muscle contractions. Once applied, the cast needs to be kept clean and dry and placing pressure or weight should be avoided.
Slinging: Slinging is a rehabilitative technique where a flexible belt or strap known as ‘sling’ is used to support and keep still an injured part of your body. Though slings can be used for different injuries, they are extensively utilized for a broken (fractured) or dislocated arm or shoulder. A sling is mostly applied after a splint is placed.