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What is a scoliosis brace?

Scoliosis is a condition that causes an abnormal curve in your


A scoliosis brace is a device worn around the torso that can help

prevent the curve from getting worse. It can also make it less likely

that you’ll need surgery in the future after bone growth has


A brace is the only available treatment that can potentially slow

the progression of the curve in a child or adolescent whose bones are

still growing. It doesn’t work after bone growth has stopped.

How does bracing work?

A scoliosis brace is designed to slow or stop progression of the

spinal curvature caused by scoliosis.

Rigid braces put pressure on your spine in several places to help

prevent it from curving more than it already has. Dynamic braces

slow curve progression by retraining your body into maintaining a

corrective posture.

Both types of braces may slow progression enough to remove the

need for surgery, but they can’t completely or permanently

straighten your spine.

What are the different types of braces?

A brace that goes from your thoracic spine (upper back) to your

sacral spine (buttocks) is called a thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis

(TLSO). It covers your body from your armpits to your hips. It’s the

most common style of brace.

A brace that goes from your cervical spine (neck) to your sacral

spine is called a cervical-thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis (CTLSO).

It braces your spine from your neck to your hips.

Some braces are worn full-time; others are worn only while you’re

sleeping (nighttime).

Full-time braces

 Milwaukee brace. This was the original scoliosis brace. It’s

a CTLSO. It has a metal superstructure that’s very rigid and

quite noticeable because it’s worn outside of your clothing.

Because of its size, bulk, and appearance, it’s not used

much anymore.

 Boston brace. This is the most commonly prescribed brace

today. It’s a TLSO. It fits like a jacket, covering your body

from your armpits to your hips. It’s made of hard but

lightweight plastic. It doesn’t have a superstructure, so it’s

not very noticeable under clothing. A prefabricated brace in

your size is customized to exactly fit your body and spinal

curve. It closes in the back, so it you may need help putting it

on and taking it off.

 Wilmington brace. This type is similar to the Boston brace.

It’s made of the same material and fits like a jacket, but it

closes in the front. It’s custom-made for you using a plaster

mold of your torso.

Nighttime braces

 Charleston bending brace. This is the most prescribed

nighttime brace. It’s a TLSO that’s custom-made to fit your

body and spinal curve. It puts strong pressure on your spine,

bending it past the midline of your back. This overcorrection

is only possible while you’re lying down.

How effective is bracing?

Braces have been used to treat scoliosis for over 450 years, but there are

still questions about their effectiveness.

Braces can only slow or stop the progression of a spinal curve. They can’t

get rid of the curve or straighten out the spine.


A brace won’t work if it isn’t worn correctly or for the recommended

amount of time. For maximum effectiveness:

 wear your brace correctly

 check often to be sure it fits properly and have it revised if it


 wear it for the recommended amount of time, which is often 16-

23 hours a day

Understand that dynamic braces may not be as effective as rigid ones.

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