Hip braces are used to stabilize the hips and keep them in proper alignment. They are most often used postoperatively but also can be used by people who require a better alignment to relieve pain while undergoing physical therapy. They can also be used in infants and small children to correct congenital structural problems, ensuring that these don't follow the child into later life. They resemble a harness, or sling and are usually put on and removed while lying in a bed.
They’re made in a variety of materials depending upon their use. Your doctor or physical therapist will instruct you how to wear one and take it on and off, but once you get home there are several things to be aware of as you transition back into your normal routine.
Mobility is Going to Be Restricted
Things that you used to take for granted may now become difficult to do. Wearing the brace, especially if it is a larger one, is going to make your hip area wider than it was before. This could make going to the toilet difficult; you may ask your provider about getting a drop arm commode. This will allow you to sit more comfortably and provide arm support when you are getting back up.
Also, be sure to avoid sitting in chairs or couches that are low to the ground as they may require too much hip flexion, making you break your restrictions that the doctor will place you on.
Washing the Brace
Some braces are completely machine washable while others will have pads that can be removed for washing with the hard materials of the brace being wiped clean.
If you can only remove the brace at bedtime, you’ll need to do the washing then, remembering to allow for time to dry. This is when it's very helpful to have someone that can help you. Also, having your brace unavailable during the night could create problems if you've to get back up. For this reason, it's a good idea to ask for at least one extra set of pads. That way you’ll always be able to have a clean, dry pair available.
Clothing and Your Hip Brace
Hip braces are usually worn under clothing. Clothes will need to be a larger size than you would normally wear, with loose-fitting workout clothes being the easiest to manage. You may want to consider a thin undergarment such as spandex to prevent the brace from rubbing directly against the skin. This helps avoid skin irritation and keeps the brace clean. Keep in mind that underwear is also going to need to go over the brace, otherwise you’ll have to take off the entire brace every time you go to the bathroom.
Inspect the skin under the brace daily, especially in small children. If you notice any abrasions, redness or blistering, consult your doctor or therapist to determine the best course of action.
Using these tips will help you or a loved one transition into life with a temporary hip brace, keeping the inconveniences to a minimum.