Shoulder Braces: How to choose the right one for you

A guide to the benefits of a shoulder brace, whether you need one and how to choose the right one for you.

Benefits of a shoulder brace

Shoulder braces are a simple, yet useful tool to help immobilise and stabilise your shoulder joint - in the case of injury or pain. Shoulder pain can be a result of trauma or more chronic conditions - for which there is an appropriate shoulder brace.

In sports, shoulder braces can be used as a preventative tool - providing support for sports that place increased load on the shoulder.

Top 5 Injuries that shoulder braces support

  1. Shoulder bursitis

  2. Post surgically

  3. Rotator cuff tear

  4. Sports injuries

  5. Frozen shoulder

When do you need a shoulder brace?

There are a number of situations where a shoulder brace can be helpful:

The shoulder joint is the most mobile of all in the human body, which allows for a large range of motion. However, there is a price to pay for that movement - lack of stability.

A shoulder brace can be used in sports to add some stability to a shoulder for either:

a) prevention of an injury

b) management of a current injury.

A list of sports where a shoulder brace may be useful:

Different types of braces

Different shoulder braces can be used for various injuries, here is a list of the most common and when they are useful.

Collar and Cuff

The most straightforward type of shoulder support, this simple sling is comfortable to wear and easy to get on and off. They are used mostly in an acute injury to provide enough support and take the weight of the shoulder joint and clavicle.

Sling

Slings are the most commonly used postoperatively, with two main types.

Standard

Standard slings are positioned across the front of the body, with the arm in internal rotation and the shoulder adducted.

Abduction

Abduction slings are where the arm is slightly abducted and in neutral rotation. Surgeons believe that this position may allow for proper healing, without causing internal rotation stiffness post-surgically.

Clavicle Brace

This brace is designed to keep the clavicle (collarbone) immobilised, usually after a small break or fractured. Figure 8 designs help hold the shoulders back and keep the clavicle stable.

Shoulder immobilisers and stabilisers

Used mostly in sports, these braces help minimise the movement available to the shoulder. Most commonly, they will restrict the amount of elevation that the patient can achieve, ensuring that their injury can be managed and not put under unnecessary stress. Jonathon Thurston is a famous rugby-league player who wore a shoulder immobilising brace for much of his career.

Shoulder Posture Braces

These braces are quite different from any of the ones mentioned previously. Designed with prevention in mind, these braces pull the shoulders back and aim to improve posture, maintaining an upright position and preventing slouching.

How much does a shoulder brace cost?

A basic collar and cuff brace can cost you as little as $20 from your local pharmacy. The more complex the brace, the higher the cost, with shoulder immobilisers being the most expensive. For a custom made shoulder immobiliser, you can expect to pay over $350 with off the shelf options still well over $150.

How to choose the right shoulder brace

We have outlined all the possible options as well as their costs; now it is time to choose the right one. There are a few things to consider before making a purchase.

Post surgically, you will be given a brace by the operating team and advised on the use of it. IF in the event of a sports injury, you can purchase from us, or a local pharmacy.

If you are unsure on how to select the right brace - speak to your local physiotherapist who can guide you with this process.

Are you still suffering from shoulder pain?

Whilst a shoulder brace can provide some support - it's just that, support. Find a local physiotherapist who can help treat your shoulder injury and get back to your active self.

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