My Brace Hurts - What Should I Do?
Why Do I Have to Wear a Brace?
The first few days of brace wearing can sometimes be difficult. Just like getting used to a new pair of shoes, you will have to get used to your new brace. At first, there may be some places under your brace that will be uncomfortable. They are called pressure points. Your skin will get used to these pressure points after a few days but it may take a couple of weeks to feel really good in your new brace. At first, you and your parents may think you will never get used to it. But trust me, you will. The orthotist may need to make some adjustments to better fit your brace. You and your orthotist will become very good friends! Within the first week, you will wear your brace for short periods of time and gradually increase the time each day. Within two weeks of wearing your brace, you will be a pro!
I Have a Sore Spot Under My Brace
For the first few weeks of brace wearing, you will need to check your skin each day to be sure your brace is not causing any real sore spots. If there are any really red spots or sores, show your mom or dad. It is a really good idea to let your family help you with your brace and check your skin. As you have been in your brace longer, you can inspect your skin and let your parents know if there are any problems. If you have a sore, remove your brace and call your doctor's office to get further instructions. Normally, you would leave your brace off until the sore is healed. That is why it is so important to prevent skin problems because your brace is not helping your spine stay straight if it cannot be worn.
To Prevent Skin Problems
Your doctor and nurse will give you specific instructions on how to manage your skin under your brace. You should always wear something snug under your brace to protect your skin from the brace as well as absorb perspiration. You will sweat a little under your brace and you may need to change your t-shirt a couple of times a day in the warm weather. Even small wrinkles in the wrong place under a brace can cause a skin problem, so be sure to take the time to smooth your t-shirt out and apply your brace correctly.
What About Gym Class?
Most doctors want you to participate in a normal gym class and will allow you to take off your brace for gym period at school. It is important for all of the kids to see you being your old, normal self. Your school nurse or gym teacher may be able to find you a place to slip out of your brace. At first you will think that you will never be able to get back in your brace, but you will. Faster than you can imagine with practice! At first, it would be good for your mom or dad to show your school nurse or gym teacher how to help you. You won't need anyone's help for long. You will become an expert!
I Will Not Wear That Brace!
Of course, wearing your brace is totally up to you. Your parents cannot force you. They can talk to you about it, but it is really up to you. If your doctor has decided that you need it, it is because your scoliosis will get worse without it.
Choosing not to wear your brace may cause your scoliosis to progress and that may lead to needing surgery to correct and stop the curve from getting worse. Surgery is not the worst thing in the world and lots of kids with scoliosis have surgery every year. But, if you have a chance to finish growing with just a small curve, that is what should be tried first.
The most important thing to remember is that bracing is not forever. It will be necessary to wear it just until you finish growing. So hang in there. You can do it.
One day, once you have finished growing, your doctor will slowly decrease the amount of time you need to wear your brace. Then, your doctor will say you can throw your brace away. On that day, you will smile and cry at the same time. You will know that you have done the best thing that you can do for your back. You will be able to say, "I did it" and know that you can go on with a very normal life. And believe it or not, you will miss your brace. You will see!