Scoliosis Stories

Written by a Teen for Teens




           Many teens are getting braces for their Idiopathic Scoliosis including me.  If you are between the degrees of 20-40 you should consider getting one too.  Braces are big, plastic tubes that go around your torso.  Most braces are white but some people decide to get colored or cool designed ones.  The only problem with getting a colorful brace is that it will show through white shirts.  Why get a brace?  It will most likely hold your back in place as you grow.  For it to be really effective you will have to wear it most of the day.  I would suggest wearing it 18 hours.  Unfortunately, braces have not yet been proven to work.  They are only suggested by doctors.  From my experience wearing a brace, I would suggest getting one.  When I first started to wear a brace, I was at 36 degrees.  After 10 months of wearing it, I am already at 17 degrees(these measurements were taken when I was not in my brace).  I am standing pretty straight on my own!

          You do have to wear it almost all day in order for the brace to be effective.  The more you wear it, the better results you will get.  But, I will be the first to admit that the first two weeks in the brace are very difficult.  Before you get your brace, you will get it fitted.  To take a cast of your body, the doctor will ask you to take your clothes off except for your underwear.  They will then give you a material that looks kind of like a sock with holes for your arms and legs.  You get to put that on as they are taking the mold.  If you are worried about being seen in your underwear, imagine how many other kids have done it before you.  I assure you that you are not the first and you will not be the last.  To feel more comfortable, get a doctor the same gender as you.  It worked for me.  The doctor will wrap you in the material casts are made of to get a mold.  At first, the wrap is wet and gooey but as it dries it gets very hard.  It will feel as if you are in a huge body cast.  When I had the hard cast like material around me, I felt very uncomfortable.  The body cast was very claustrophobic and made it hard for my lungs to expand.  I began to panic.  It was very weird and strange breathing like this.  It does not last too long so do not panic like I did.  After the mold dries, the doctor will cut it off your body with a special machine.  The machine will look very scary but in reality, it is not dangerous at all.  All the machine does is vibrate.  Even if you put your hand on it, you would be totally safe.  Do not worry about the cast cutter.

          About two to three weeks later, your brace will be finished being made.  You will go into the doctor's office and put it on.  At first, it will seem very uncomfortable.  You will have to tell the doctor which areas of the brace feel too tight.  Some areas will rub you and make your skin very red.  Tell your doctor about those areas as well.  Sit down with your brace on and see if anything rubs you in that position.  Then, your doctor will go into a special room where they will adjust the brace to fit you better.  In the end, you will walk out of the doctor's office with a brace either fitted around your body or in your hand.  If you do not want people to see your brace as you walk out, I suggest bringing some kind of non see through bag.  Make sure it is a pretty big bag.  Or you can buy some clothes in advance to fit your brace.  Visit the "Fashion Corner" on my website to find out more about fitting clothes over your brace.

          It will be very difficult the next two weeks.  You want to wear your brace as much as possible.  It might still feel very tight in some areas.  You have to realize that you just are not use to it yet.   When I first got my brace, the first thing that I noticed was how little space my lungs got to fill.  It felt as if I could not breathe.  The hole in my brace only covers half of my lung so it felt like only half of my lung could expand.  The bar over my lung felt very tight as well.  I would get a red spot just from breathing.  I was very upset with my brace.  I told my mom that I would not wear it.  I went two or three days without it before I realized something.  Which is worse; wearing the brace for a while or having a big surgery?  Finally, I decided my back is not going to fix itself on its own.  I would have to wear the brace and get use to it.  There did not seem like any other way.  I know it is difficult to wear.  But what you do not realize is that if you get surgery, they will put metal bars in your back which will stay there forever.  If the surgery is necessary because your back is so curvy, then it is a great thing.  But, if you could have prevented it by wearing your brace, you will question yourself for the rest of your life whether your brace would have worked.  I have not had surgery but I am pretty sure that you cannot be as limber as you were before the surgery.  If you have any chance of preventing your spine from curving, the brace is the way to go.  For the first month or two of wearing your brace, you will sweat a lot.  Your body sweats to cool yourself down.  Unfortunately, your body will not know that sweating does not make a difference.  But after a month or two, your body will realize it does no good to sweat and it will pretty much stop.

Once you get use to wearing the brace, you will have to wear it at school.  You cannot bend over while in the brace.  When you drop a pencil, you have to ask people to get it for you.  They do not have to know you wear your brace.  They just have to pick up the pencil.  When your teachers ask you to sit on the floor, you will have to sit on your legs.  You will not be able to criss-cross your legs like you could before.  On the bright side, you will always have amazing posture while in your brace!  In PE, it is going to be different for you.  You will get to change just like you did before alongside your classmates.  At first, people will stare and ask questions.  There is no way around this but people are just curious.  When you think about it, people are not as interested or concerned about your brace as you might think.  Sure they will be thinking about it for a minute or two but after that, they start to think about different things.  You should not be embarrassed just because you wear a brace.  It will be kind of weird the first couple of days in the locker room.  I had to ask my PE coaches where I should put my brace while I am at PE.  They told me I could put it in their special back room of their office.  So everyday I went to the back of their office to put away my brace.  After a while, people will get so use to the idea that you have a brace and will not notice anymore.  I know how hard it is to get to this point.  You just have to realize that this is going to help you in the long run.  It will be weird but, you have to do it for the sake of your spine. 

          The only times you do not wear your brace is for things like appointments and sports.  Appointments like getting your hair cut, going to the orthodontist, or getting your teeth cleaned allows you to take a break from your brace.  Considering that the brace goes past your hips, you will soon come to realize that is really hard to do anything like pulling yourself up from lying down.  It would be funny if you could not pull yourself up from sitting in the dentist's chair!  Also, you do not have to wear your brace to outings like your friend's birthday party.  It is ok to take a break for special occasions.

          That is basically all you need to know for bracing.  I hope now you have a better understanding of it.  If you do end up getting a brace please send a picture of it to  I will put it under an album on the "Photos" page so other people can become familiar with what braces look like.  For more information about sending me a picture, please look at the sidebar above.  I hope your experience with a brace will be better now that you know a little more about it.