Spine Surgery And Important Information About Braces

Posted on

If you need a spine surgery to fuse two or more spinal vertebrae together, then one of your best options for success is to make sure that you choose to allow a neurosurgeon to complete the procedure for you. Your surgery will most likely be scheduled some time in advance, and this is ideal to allow you to prepare for the recovery afterwards. In some cases, you may feel pain and soreness for three to six months after the operation. To help reduce pain and to assist with healing, your surgeon will likely ask you to use a brace. Keep reading to understand what these braces do, what kinds may be suggested, and what can make the braces more comfortable. 

Understanding Braces

Once your spinal fusion surgery is completed, you will likely be asked to wear a brace for a period of time afterwards. Your brace will help to stabilize your spine and keep your back from moving. This allows the surgical area to heal as new bone cells start to form in the area. Improper healing can contribute to long term lumbar pain as well as the formation of scar tissue. A small amount of scar tissue is likely to form. However, too much of the hard tissue can place pressure on the nerves along the spine and cause pain. The length of time that you need to wear the brace will vary depending on the location of the fusion. Usually, the lower part of the spinal region will be under more pressure and the brace may need to be worn longer. The type of brace will also depend on the location of your surgery as well.

Rigid and corset braces are the two types that you will likely need to wear. Rigid varieties limit spinal movement by around 50% and they are commonly used for all types of fusion operations that do not involve the lumbar area. Lumbar surgeries will require the use of a corset or elastic brace that prevents you from bending forward.

Keeping Braces Comfortable

Both rigid and elastic braces are likely to be uncomfortable, but rigid varieties are the heaviest and most bulky. While most braces utilize straps to fit the device to your body shape, many braces use waist measurements to create small, medium, and large sized devices. Hip, bust, shoulder, and torso length are often not taken into consideration. To keep your brace from placing pressure uncomfortably on your body, think about asking your surgeon to prescribe a custom brace for you. A custom orthotic will be made once your measurements are taken. If possible, ask for a device made from low density polyethylene materials as well, since these will be lighter weight. These types of materials should be used to make corset braces as well, but you probably do not need a custom corset device.

Devices with removable pads are a good choice too, so you can add and remove pads as support and compression needs change. You may be able to use hot and cold pads within the brace, so ask your orthotic professional or neurosurgeon if this is a good idea for your situation. 

When you wear your brace, you will likely become hot, so think about buying breathable shirts to wear over your brace. Cotton t-shirts that are one or two sizes bigger than normal are a good idea. The shirts will also allow you to remove your brace a bit easier when you lie down. Rashes may be an issue as well due to the heat and sweat. You can prevent rashes and the itching that comes along with them by using antibacterial wipes to clean your brace thoroughly every evening. Also, think about covering your back in talcum powder before using your brace for the day. If a rash does appear, speak with your physician immediately. Sometimes, fungal infections can form and an oral or topical anti-fungal medication may be needed.