When a joint injury takes you out of the game, stops you from enjoying a daily walk, or makes it hard to stay moving in any capacity, it’s time to learn how custom bracing can improve your joint health and function.
Our brace experts at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C., in Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon, specialize in customized bracing, creating the specific brace you need to speed up healing, prevent future injuries, and help you stay active while protecting the joint.
Value of custom bracing
All orthopedic braces serve the same purpose: They support and stabilize a joint or in the case of your spine, multiple vertebral joints. But braces can’t do the job if they don’t fit properly. That’s why custom bracing is so crucial.
A brace tailored to fit your unique body shape and designed to support your specific joint problem produces optimal results and ensures maximum comfort.
You can’t depend on the same level of joint care from a one-size-fits-all brace. In addition to not providing the precise joint support you need, a brace that isn’t a good fit can irritate your skin, pinch nerves, and cause pain.
How orthopedic bracing works
Braces consist of many rigid and soft materials. Some examples include plastic, metal, foam, gel pads, knitted fabrics, and neoprene (synthetic rubber).
Rigid materials control movement and protect injured joints, while soft materials support mobility and offset pressure.
Each custom brace combines the materials needed to achieve one or more of the following goals:
- Stabilize the joint
- Immobilize the joint
- Restrict joint movement
- Improve and maintain proper alignment
- Compensate for weak muscles and ligaments
- Remove pressure from injured joints and muscles
- Correct function and movement
- Improve contractures (short, tight, or scarred muscles and tendons)
- Distribute weight properly
- Prevent or correct deformities
- Prevent sports injuries and re-injuries
Many people need a brace to protect the joint and support healing after an injury. But custom braces also help you prevent injuries.
Custom bracing benefits
The list above shows many ways orthopedic braces improve the health of your joints. While physical support is the overall goal, braces achieve other results equally vital for our patients.
These are the top four benefits gained from using custom braces:
1. Relieving pain
Joint problems typically involve inflammation and injured or degenerated tissues — problems that cause pain when you try to move or use the joint. You get relief from the pain as a custom brace limits mobility and eliminates pressure on damaged tissues.
Custom bracing is especially important for optimal pain relief because the brace targets your specific joint needs.
2. Accelerating healing
Joints must be protected when recovering from an injury. Putting too much weight on the joint or moving bones, ligaments, and tendons too soon can stop the healing process and lead to re-injury.
3. Supporting rehabilitation
Custom bracing limits the joint’s range of motion and adds additional support, like an external skeleton. As a result, you can safely participate in physical therapy and rehabilitation and get back in the game faster.
4. Improving function
Braces improve the joint’s function by achieving one or more of the goals listed above. Here are a few examples highlighting how braces work:
Unloading braces - Unloaders improve mobility and minimize pain by taking pressure off the joint and providing extra support.
Patellar brace - A patellar brace holds the kneecap in place when you’re active.
Ankle foot orthosis (AFO) - An AFO allows movement even if you have ankle instability by controlling ankle position and compensating for weaknesses.
Stance-control knee ankle foot orthosis (SCKAFO) - An advanced SCKAFO helps people with knee instability. You can walk safely because the brace lets the knee bend when swinging your leg forward and prevents overextension when your foot is on the ground.
Shoulder cuff - A shoulder cuff improves function by stabilizing the joint and controlling the shoulder’s range of motion. A customized cuff suits your mobility needs and preferences, allowing you to stay active while protecting the joint.
Want to learn how a custom brace can improve your health? Call Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C., today or request an appointment online.