Woman wearing a hip brace

How Do Hip Braces Work & Help You Recover From Injury?

Hip braces are designed for people who have some type of hip problem. Anytime a person’s hip is injured, dislocated, or has surgery done on it, they’ll usually be required to wear a hip brace for support and rehabilitation purposes. Basically, the hip support prevents a person from hurting or injuring their hip any further as they recover. Meanwhile, they’re able to move around on their own during the recovery process with the help of the brace.

A typical hip brace consists of 2 connective pieces; one goes onto the hip and the other goes onto the thigh. Although the pieces themselves are hard, they each have a cushy padded lining to provide comfort to the wearer. The harder sides of the pieces face outward while the cushy pads face inward. This provides external protection in case the wearer falls over or suffers an impact on their hip area.

Picture showing the two parts of a hip braceThere are a mechanical arm and joint which connect the two pieces together on the body. The joint is what allows the brace to be adjusted to a suitable angle for the user. Adjustments are always performed by a doctor, so you never need to worry about doing that yourself. The two pieces stay secured to your body by straps; one strap for the thigh piece and the other strap for the waist piece.  Braces are always worn on top of the clothing rather than underneath.

Elderly people are the prime candidates for hip braces because they have more hip replacement surgeries done than any other age group. But if a younger person or athlete is injured, then they may need a hip replacement, hip repair, or hip revision surgery. Anyone who has hip problems will know they have them because of the pain in their hip area. However, they may not always know what caused hip pain if there was no accident or injury. All they know is that they want the pain to go away.

If a person experiences unexplainable pain in their hip, then a doctor may recommend that the person do hip strengthening exercises or take certain pain-relieving medications. Exercises can help prevent hip injuries by increasing the flexibility of the hips. But in cases where discomfort continues, a hip brace can take some of the pressure and stress off of the hips to reduce the pain.

The 4 Functions of a Hip Brace

There are 4 ways in which a hip brace can give your hip support when it is recovering from its current problem. They are as follows:

#1 – Range of Motion Limitation

Hip braces support the hips by reducing their range of motion. You can choose the position you want to lock in place. The range can be between -30 and 60 degrees. The idea is to prevent your hip from extending, twisting, or flexing in motion. That way, your hip can stay in a stable and limited position as it recovers from whatever problem it is facing. There is very little chance of accidentally injuring your hip again when its range of motion stays limited like this.

Picture of a hip compression brace which helps with blood flow and restriction of motion#2 – Reduced Dislocation

Certain types of hip braces are made to reduce dislocation by forcing the femoral head of the hip to be pushed forward. This causes the femoral head to sit inside a socket of the hip bone called the acetabulum. Most people who experience hip issues will find better hip protection from having this kind of reduced dislocation. It may even feel more comfortable for them too. Of course, not everyone will need the same level of compression on their hips. It depends on the level of support and rehabilitation that is required. Some braces use a lacing system to fit onto the body for added comfort and support. Others add high levels of compression to help deal with bigger hip issues, such as hip arthroscopy and repair of the hip labral.

#3 – Increased Compression

One of the miracles of this type of brace is that it works as a hip compression sleeve. This compression has a positive effect on the hip, such as reducing swelling, boosting the flow of blood, increasing flexibility, and adding warmth. If your hips are sore, damaged, or injured, you may use a brace that provides even stronger compression for added protection and reduced discomfort.

#4 – Increased Stabilization

The main advantage of a hip brace is the high level of stabilization it provides the wearer. People with hip problems have trouble maintaining their balance as they walk. This increases their chances of falling on the ground and injuring themselves. But if a hip brace is worn, the hips receive the necessary support needed for better stabilization and balance. The pelvis region is made stronger and the person’s movements are more controlled and precise.

Picture of a woman doing yoga while wearing a brace on her hip groin areaHow Long Should I Wear a Hip Brace?

A doctor is the one who decides if you should wear a hip brace at all. There are so many factors which go into their decision, such as your lifestyle, age, type of injury (if any), anatomy, and type of surgery (if any). Based on all these factors, your doctor may recommend that you wear a hip brace for a certain amount of time. If you’ve had hip surgery or hip dislocation, then you can definitely expect to be given a hip brace to wear.

There is no fixed length of time for wearing a hip brace. Again, it all depends on those various factors which pertain to your situation. For example, if you have a severely fractured or dislocated hip, then you may wear a hip brace for 1 or 2 months. But if it’s a strained hip without much severity, then the brace may be worn for a couple of weeks. If you’ve had surgery, then expect to wear the brace for 2 to 4 weeks. In general, your doctor will let you know when it’s time to take the brace off.

Conclusion

Your doctor can always answer any additional questions you may have about hip braces. Wearing a hip brace is nothing to be ashamed because people from all walks of life may need to wear one someday. Hip braces are meant to help people recover from a hip problem so that they hopefully won’t need to wear one again. Just be sure to take it easy and don’t overdo your physical activities while you’re in recovery. Listen to your doctor and everything should be okay.

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