Not Your Everyday Fracture

Spinal fractures, particularly lumbar fractures, are common and vary in severity. Some happen due to an accident, fall, or sports collision. These are emergencies needing immediate treatment. Others are due to conditions like osteoporosis, which occurs to about 1.5 million Americans yearly. With spinal fractures, one or more vertebrae suffer one of several types of fractures. In many cases, lumbar fracture surgery is necessary to stabilize the spine. The medical team will recommend patients use a thoracic lumbar sacral orthosis brace as part of recovery.

Bracing Your Spine

After surgery, patients will have extended recovery lasting several months. A surgeon may prescribe a thoracic lumbar sacral orthosis (TLSO) brace to increase the chances of success. After spinal surgery mobilizing the bones is of utmost importance. TLSO works by keeping the mid and lower spine in a neutral position. The patient wears the brace for specific timeframes, following the surgeon’s instructions. Holding the spine in one position, especially after surgery, limits the chances of re-injury. Besides a lumbar fracture, TLSO braces also help herniated discs, scoliosis, and other back injuries.

How does TLSO work?

TLSO looks like a long, narrow backpack with harnesses at the front and back. The brace has hard plastic centers covered in soft padding. These pads apply pressure in strategic positions on the spine and chest. Some are custom-made with an entire chest and backplate. When the patient slips into the brace, there are adjustable straps on each side. These straps keep the harness in place and help with comfort. Patients would need help to put on the brace, which is worn for a few hours each day. The helper will slide the brace on and off while the patient is on a bed.

Key points to help with recovery

There are different types of TLSO braces on the market. Some target specific conditions, so patients must get the right brace for lumbar fractures. If possible, doctors recommend custom TLSO braces to meet the patient’s individual needs. The brace should stop flexion and rotation as these movements in the initial recovery period can slow down healing. Braces are helpful when sitting, standing, and walking. Patients should be able to remove the brace when sleeping.

How long would you need your brace?

TLSO braces should only be used as prescribed. Patients need to use the brace for 4-8 weeks. This timeframe helps the spine to heal in the correct neutral position. Although the brace helps with stability, comfort must be top of mind. Braces that are too tight can impact natural breathing. If worn too long, Braces worn too long can impact the core and other surrounding muscles. This impact can lead to weakness and reduced mobility.

A full recovery

A lumbar fracture can be painful and debilitating. Surgery can stabilize the bone and spine to begin the healing process. However, a brace is essential to limit movement so the body can heal. TLSO braces are needed in the first 2 months, so patients should get one as soon as possible. Along with bracing, pain management and physical therapy are essential parts of the process. Patients should maintain a healthy lifestyle during recovery and use the brace as directed. Bracing is only for a short period but can bring exceptional results.