Every month, there are more than 173,000 online searches globally for “hip pain.” That’s a lot of hips and a lot more pain. Many of the people who are searching for solutions to hip pain will, at some point, need to consider wearing a hip brace. Hip braces are often the next step to take after its determined that exercise and pain medication isn’t solving the problem. Sometimes, specialized hip braces are also worn during running and exercise to provide compression to help torn or strained hip flexor muscles or reduce the pain of sciatica. However, the majority of the time, hip braces are needed to help a patient recover from surgery or injury.
Hip braces are external support tools that can be worn over clothing to improve stability and reduce the heavy lifting the hip joint would otherwise be tasked with doing on its own. BestHealthGear.com cites the four functions of a hip brace as:
- Improve range of motion
- Reduce the risk of dislocation
- Increase compression
- Joint stabilization
A Measure of Hip Brace Effectiveness
It is often asked if hip braces are effective at reducing pain and improving mobility. The answer is that it depends on the problem you’re trying to solve and the type of hip brace you’re using. In a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, of 14 the osteoarthritis (OA) patients who participated, nine felt an immediate reduction in pain. The research is inconclusive, but for OA patients, it appears that bracing designed to modify the weight-bearing area and reduce compression through the joint, is in fact beneficial.
For an unscientific measure of effectiveness, take a look at online product reviews. Although reviews can be manipulated by manufacturers, by in large, perusing Amazon.com for hip braces yields feedback rating most braces with four-out-of-five stars or above. Although this isn’t official research, people in pain typically don’t share four-star reviews unless they are truly satisfied. The overall endorsement of hip braces is an indicator that the customers who buy and use hip braces are experiencing support and pain relief.
Types of Hip Braces
There are many different types of hip braces on the market. Each is designed to mitigate specific hip problems. The most common is a hip abduction brace, which is engineered to hold the thigh bone in the socket, preventing movement. Hip abduction braces are commonly used after surgery or injury. However, there are many products on the market sold to help with sciatica, osteoarthritis, tight hip flexor muscles, and more. The list of options includes:
- Double hip brace
- Hip & groin compression wrap
- Hip abduction orthosis
- Hip abduction brace
- Hip stabilizer
- Hip support belt
- Hip support wrap
Hip braces are often covered by insurance if they are documented as being medically necessary. Following surgery, for example, it is necessary for patients to use a hip brace while they are on crutches. The brace is needed to prevent movement caused by the crutches that can be damaging to the joint as it heals.
There’s a big difference when considering a hip brace to help with occasional pain versus using a brace after surgery or injury. When you’re recovering from dislocation or surgery, hip brace research is more critical and should be directed by your doctor.
If the brace isn’t already medically prescribed, always consult your doctor before applying a hip brace. Your doctor will provide guidance on how to wear the brace, how long and when to wear it, and if you require additional strategies to solve your hip issue.