When you have chronic pain, you want to alleviate the ache as much as you possibly can. Tendinitis, arthritis, or repetitive stress injuries can cause pain, and splinting or bracing can help improve your function, decrease pain levels, and reduce irritation. But, which one is the best support system for your needs? Braces and splints offer different levels of control and support, depending on how long and how you choose to wear them. We’ll outline both below.
Braces vs. Splints for Chronic Pain Management
One of the first things you have to do is decide if you need a brace or a splint. These are both assistive medical devices that can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, but they work in slightly different ways. While both braces and splints can help with chronic pain, one may work better over the other for your situation.
A brace is a device that you wear to stop any further agitation in your joint by immobilizing whichever part of your body you wear it on. Braces usually feature a rigid stay or have rigid fabric that helps to treat minor injuries or pain flare-ups. You can use a brace to treat minor sprains or carpal tunnel syndrome. You can choose from different braces, including:
- Ankle and foot braces
- Back support
- Elbow braces
- Hand and wrist braces
- Knee braces
- Shoulder braces
A splint is something you’ll use to treat more serious conditions or injuries as it acts like an immobilizer. Very similar to a brace, splints have a stiff fabric design to them. However, splints also come with a rigid piece of plastic or metal built in to strengthen them more. Since this gives splints more stability, you’d use them to treat fractures, major sprains or flare-ups, and carpal tunnel syndrome. There are a few types of splints, including:
- Ankle stirrup
- Finger splint
- Nasal splint
- Posterior elbow
- Posterior full leg
- Posterior lower leg
- Sugar tong
- Thumb spica
- Ulnar gutter
- Volar wrist splint
- Wrist or arm splint
How to Use Braces and Splits for Chronic Pain Management
Now that you know the most popular splints and braces available, we’re going to touch on several ways you can use them for your chronic pain management.
Low Back Pain
You can use soft or rigid braces to help with your low back pain. Soft braces will increase your abdominal core’s pneumatic mechanism, and this gives your back internal rigidity to support your spine. A rigid brace provides external support for your spine and back muscles. They’re useful for helping manage spine conditions that cause low back pain, and you can use them to stabilize the area.
Muscle Sprains or Strains
Ankle, knee, elbow, and foot braces are common assistive devices with tendon or ligament sprains or strains. They can provide just enough support to allow you to use it on a limited basis. Additionally, having a brace on your strained or sprained area can help prevent you from overusing it and causing irritation.
There are rigid and soft collars that can help treat neck pain. The soft brace works best for whiplash-type injuries, and you usually wear them for two to four weeks. Rigid braces offer dynamic tension that will eventually change your neck on a mechanical level to get you to a thoracic spine orientation. It’s common to wear a neck brace after neck surgery to help keep the cervical spine stable.
The Carolinas Pain Center Can Help With Chronic Pain Management
If you have chronic pain, it’s essential that you have a dedicated team on your side to help treat and manage your day-to-day symptoms. We can also help decide if a brace or splint would be more appropriate for your needs. Book an appointment with our team today.