A TLSO brace is a form-fitting brace that limits back movement in order to correct bad posture, protect the back during recovery from injury or surgery, or treat other back problems. TLSO stands for Thoracolumbar Sacral Orthosis, but this type of brace is most commonly called a Boston brace. This site is specifically designed to educate you on TLSO braces and potentially help you find one that fits your needs.
The first and most important thing to note is that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a serious back problem, you should work closely with your doctor to determine the right brace to use. In some cases, using the wrong brace can make a back problem worse. While this site tries to offer the best information possible, it is not intended as a substitute for medical advice (see our disclaimer for clarification).
What is a TLSO?
The TLSO is a rigid brace made of hard plastic. Unlike elastic braces, it does not permit a wide range of motion, limiting the wearer to about 50% of normal spine movement. This restrictiveness makes the brace beneficial for people recovering from compression fractures and other spine injuries, as it not only provides support, but keeps them from moving in ways that might cause pain or re-injury.
When properly fitted, Boston braces are also effective at preventing slouching by forcing the spine into an upright position. Many people buy them over the counter as a posture corrective brace, either to recondition themselves to stand up straight or just to improve their appearance in public.
Boston braces are also one of three back braces prescribed to stop curvature of the spine due to scoliosis, along with the CTLSO brace (also known as the Milwaukee brace) and the Charleston bending brace. In order to work properly, scoliosis braces must be custom fitted.
Wearing a TLSO brace
When putting on a TLSO brace, it’s important to make sure it is secure and snug so that it can provide the intended support. People dealing with back problems such as compression fractures should put the brace on while lying in bed and make sure it’s secure before sitting up. As always, it’s important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Most Boston braces aren’t easy to spot under the wearer’s clothing. However, because of the hard material they’re made of, TLSO braces tend to make wearers hot and sweaty. So adjust your thermostat accordingly.
Buying a TLSO brace
If your doctor has prescribed a brace for treatment of a serious back problem, you should follow your doc’s instructions on obtaining the brace. This may include a custom fitting to ensure the brace conforms to your body shape and fits as snugly as possible.
For over the counter purchases of a posture corrective brace, we recommend looking online. They come in men’s and women’s sizes with adjustable straps to hold them firm, and cost anywhere from $40 to $200 or more. For more information, see our posture corrective brace section.