Scoliosis bracing is an outdated treatment that needs to end. Scoliosis brace treatment has existed for more than 450 years, yet its success is still unproven. Bracing often causes more problems for the person wearing it, such as pain that didn’t exist before, breathing problems, and weakened muscles. It hasn’t been proven to prevent scoliosis surgery, either.

So why are we using it?

Bracing is typically recommended for children ages 10-15 with a scoliotic curve between 25 and 45 degrees. The hope is that bracing will delay or halt curve progression, since the condition is progressive. One major problem with braces—including hard plastic braces, metal braces, and even softer dynamic braces—is they cause muscles to weaken. When you don’t use your muscles, they atrophy. For example, when your arm is broken and casted, the muscles inside the cast become small and weak. This is what happens when your child wears a scoliosis brace for the recommended 18-23 hours a day.

It also explains why the curve rapidly worsens once the brace is removed. In a brace, your child’s spine becomes stiff. Joints don’t get necessary movement and they often develop more degenerative issues. Scoliosis bracing also puts stress on the ribs and typically causes a rib hump. Doctors almost always recommend removing the brace when they see this negative change using 3D x-rays, yet the additional damage is already done.