A shoulder brace or support is an orthopaedic device that will help to stabilize the ac joint of the shoulder and the surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles. It will help promote healing from certain types of shoulder injury, which we list in the next section.
We should note that some people include other types of braces such as arm slings and posture supports in the shoulder brace category. However, on this site, those supports are included in different product categories. The supports that we include in this category are those designed for shoulder immobilization or stabilization. This is different than reducing the weight of the arm on the shoulder (as arm slings do) or (changing the position of the upper back and shoulders) as posture supports do.
The ac (acromioclavicular) joint connects the clavicle (collarbone) and shoulder blade (or scapula) and is one of the 2 major joints that comprise the shoulder. As can be seen in the illustration to the left, the ac joint is surrounded by a complex network of muscles, tendons and ligaments. The complexity of the shoulder joint makes it susceptible to several types of injuries, each of which can lead to shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain is one of the more common health problems in North America today. According to a 2016 NCBI publication, it affects 18-26% of adults at any time. It also brings substantial economic costs in the form of increased healthcare costs, impairments to workplace performance, absence from work due to sickness and early retirement. Shoulder braces can play a key role in mitigating the adverse impacts of these costs on society.
Individuals who work in industries that require extensive overhead arm movement (e.g. construction, where plenty of hammering or painting work may be involved) can develop wear and tear injuries that cause shoulder pain.
Vocational activities like gardening can also produce these injuries if they involve extensive overhead work such as using garden shears to trim high branches. Finally, there are many sports that require extensive overhead arm motions like throwing or smashing. Examples include sports like baseball, cricket, tennis and volleyball.
Over time, any of these types of motions can lead to repetitive stress injuries that can cause shoulder pain. When this happens the affected individuals may need to use a shoulder brace to allow the over-stressed ligaments, tendons and muscles of the shoulder a chance to rest and recover.
In addition to stabilization, some shoulder brace designs can also relieve shoulder pain by compressing the ac joint and reducing inflammation.
If you have further questions about the use of these braces, we invite you to read our post on wearing a shoulder brace.
Other Shoulder Brace Questions
Can I Sleep With A Shoulder Brace On?
Our suggestion would be that you should do so if at all possible. The shoulder brace may help you to avoid sleeping in the wrong position (e.g. on the injured shoulder) and aggravating your injury.
For some people, sleeping on the side of the healthy shoulder with your legs apart can help to avoid turning over onto the injured shoulder in your sleep. If that works, you may not need to sleep with the shoulder brace on, especially if it is uncomfortable and inhibits sleep.
Another suggestion that you might wish to try is sleeping in a semi seated position (using 2 pillows.to raise your head). This may help to protect the injured shoulder from further damage during sleep.
For How Long Should I Wear The Brace?
Your healthcare professional should be the most authoritative source on answering this question. In addition, the time required to heal the injury obviously depends on the nature of the injury itself. For example, for a dislocated shoulder, as much as 12-16 weeks may be required for a full recovery. On the other hand, a mild shoulder instability may take much less time and may need only a few weeks. Recovery from some types of shoulder surgery can take as long as 3 months.
As a result,we suggest you consult your healthcare professional on this matter and follow his or her guidance.
What Should I Look For In The Best Shoulder Brace?
You should always choose your shoulder brace with the aid of a qualified healthcare professional. However, there are a few criteria that are always important. Wherever possible, the support you choose should be as comfortable as possible to promote patient compliance.
In addition, a brace that is easily worn under everyday clothing will be more convenient to wear at work, social or other everyday activities. This will also help with patient compliance, more complete pain relief and accelerated recovery.
You should also ensure that you have the manufacturers’ instructions on how to wash, dry and care for your shoulder brace. Following these instructions will ensure that you will receive the full benefit of your investment.
Finally, you should ensure that you follow the sizing instructions carefully and choose your size accordingly. If your shoulder brace is too large, it may allow excessive shoulder movement and therefore fail to contribute to the healing process to the extent intended. If the brace is too small, however, it will be uncomfortable or impossible to wear and will also be ineffective as a result.
Please ask our customer service personnel if you have any additional questions on the shoulder braces presented below.