Bracing or Splinting as Treatment
Braces and splints are proven low-cost aides that often provide effective relief for chronic pain. They reduce swelling and pain as well as offer joint support. A brace or splint immobilizes the afflicted joint in the proper position in order to promote healing. Bracing or splinting limits motion in order to prevent worsening pain and inflammation, provides support to a stiff joint, and stabilizes the affected joint.
Braces and splints work best if they fit properly. An occupational or physical therapist can custom make a brace or splint of hard or soft material to fit a particular individual. An orthotist can also make specialized support devices that are tailored to fit an individual's needs.
Braces and splints are used on various types of conditions and/or injuries. From a chronic pain standpoint, braces and/or splints are sometimes used as a treatment for the following conditions: carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, osteoarthritis, lower-back pain, muscle strains, spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions. Braces and splints have little-to-no side effects although some people report skin irritation.
Muscle strains are more common in the legs, ankles, and lower back but can occur in almost any part of the body. Tendons can also strain or tear. A brace and/or splint is often recommended as they provide stability and support to the affected area allowing the muscle or tendon to rest and heal.
A healthcare provider should always be consulted before wearing a brace or splint. Because prolonged use of brace or splint can weaken the muscle and cause stiff joints, monitoring by a physician is important. A brace or splint that does not fit correctly or is worn improperly can cause additional damage. It is imperative to follow a doctor's orders if using a brace or splint as a treatment option.