You’ve just been injured or started feeling a weird pain in one of your joints. You get online and start googling things like “knee pain,” “elbow pain” or “sprained ankle.”
Immediately, you’re hit with search results and ads advocating for the use of a “brace.” It’s an attractive solution, because it seems easy and low risk.
What’s a couple bucks? If it doesn’t help, no biggy. If it does help, you’ve found a solution that will allow you to keep going about your normal day to day life – that’s great! Right?
It is definitely great that you’ve found a temporary solution to relieve pain and keep you moving, but there are a few important questions you must ask yourself before calling the problem solved.
Before we dive in to the questions, let’s start with the basics of the function of a brace. A brace decreases pain by restricting mobility and limiting range of motion in the affected joint.
By restricting mobility, a brace may cause a couple of long term problems for the joint, as well as other joints in the body.
With those thoughts in mind, it may start to seem like a brace isn’t such a great idea.
However, they aren’t completely bad. It just means that they aren’t always the long term solution people think they are.
Here’s 3 questions to ask yourself before jumping at that opportunity to throw on a brace and see how it feels.
1) Is my safety at risk if I don’t wear the brace?
In some cases, an injury or movement disorder may be so bad that a brace is needed to stabilize the joint. Without a brace, it’s possible that simple movements like walking or standing up would cause more damage to the joint. If that’s the case, it’s likely a brace needs to be a part of your solution.
2) Do I want to wear the brace long term?
If you’re perfectly ok with wearing a brace long term, maybe it can be a solution for you. Just remember that the longer you wear it, the more you’ll increase the risk of developing dependence on it and other injuries down the road.
3) Do I have a brace exit plan?
If you do not want to wear the brace long term, you need a brace exit plan. There must be a plan in place to address the underlying causes of the injury or condition – a qualified strength coach, physical therapist, or neuro therapist may be able to help develop this plan.
My take? Braces aren’t all bad – they play an important role in the recovery process if the affected joint is in legitimate risk of additional harm. However, I would not recommend using a brace (other than for safety reasons) if you don’t have a parallel plan in place to address the underlying cause of injured joint.
About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility.
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