A brace is an effective means of reducing pain and supporting healing for many movement problems. However, it is important that you choose the right brace for your complaint and personal situation. For a consumer without a medical background, this is quite a challenge as there are many different braces with different levels of support. For example, with a mild complaint you do not want to immobilize the entire joint, while with a severe complaint this may be necessary. In this article we will answer the question: "How do you choose the right brace?''
What to look for
When a doctor or therapist prescribes a brace there are many different aspects that are taken into account. The most important aspects are elaborated below.
Many braces are classified according to indication, for example: hernia, osteoarthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. These braces are specially designed to reduce the symptoms of these conditions and/or to support the healing process. If you have a clear indication it is therefore easier to select the right brace. However, it often happens that there is no clear indication, then the aspects below are often looked at. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis because it requires a lot of medical knowledge. There is a lot of information available online that essentially allows you to diagnose yourself. However, this is highly inadvisable because it is a very complicated process, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
The exact location of the complaint
A joint is the connection between two or more bone parts and is also formed by tendons and ligaments. Since they are multiple structures, it is important to know where the complaint is located. For example, in the case of a knee complaint, you may suffer from: the kneecap, the outside of the knee or the inside of the knee. That is why it is important to choose a brace that supports the part of the joint that is bothering you. For example, some braces have a special ring that holds the kneecap in place, while others provide more general support for the knee. A brace that provides general support is generally better suited for non-specific complaints.
Immobilization or support
In many cases immobilization of the joint is not desired so a compression brace or semi-rigid brace is chosen. In some cases, partial or complete immobilization is required to allow the joint to heal, depending on the severity of the complaint.
In general, braces are classified into three different categories: compression, semi-rigid and rigid brace. For more information about these categories read this article: how a brace works. The functioning of these braces differs per category. For example, the purpose of a compression brace is to increase proprioception of the joint. For more information on proprioception, read this article: how does a compression brace work? A semi-rigid and rigid brace limit a painful movement, support the joint through boning or hinging, or immobilize a joint. However, there are many braces that use both compression and boning or hinging.
The movements that hurt
Ideally, movements should generally be restricted as little as possible. Prolonged immobilization is not only annoying in daily life, it can also be counterproductive. Movement is good for the joints. Therefore, usually only the most painful movements are restricted.
Sport or daily use
An important aspect in choosing a brace is when you will use it. This aspect is often underestimated. A good split is, for example, daily use or during sports. This is because a sports brace is made of different materials than a brace for everyday use.
In addition to the choice of brace use, the activity level is also important. For example, our back braces can be categorized into: prolonged sitting, prolonged standing, changing activities and physical work. These braces support the back that best suits the activity. The brace for physical work therefore has an extra band to provide extra support for the back. The brace for prolonged sitting, on the other hand, is a lot thinner and more flexible.
Choosing a brace
Now that you know what aspects to look for, choosing the right brace can still be a daunting task. To help you with this, we have developed the Bracewijzer, which you can fill in below. Based on a number of short questions, you will receive concrete advice on which brace is best for your situation.
For healthcare professionals
Bracewijzer is now also available as a handy product foldout for your fitting room. Interested? We will send it to you for free. Click on the button below to request it for free.
Bart van Ommen
Choosing the right brace to fit your complaint and situation is no easy task. That's why, as a supplier, we feel it is our duty to share our knowledge about braces with you, so that you can make a well-considered choice. The brace that suits you and supports you best in your activity.