Support Braces: FSA Eligibility
What are support braces?
For many athletes, amateur or professional alike, the idea of a muscle sprain or aching joint slowing down their routines is a non-starter, so finding ways to work around the injury and maintain their physical activity levels is a must. As such, countless athletic bandages, braces, tape and other devices have been developed to allow active individuals to treat immediate injuries without compromising their physical fitness goals.
How do support braces treat injuries?
Many doctors recommend the "RICE" approach in treating injuries, which refers to Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Support braces fit seamlessly into this approach by first stabilizing the affected area to prevent further strain, and providing compression therapy to prevent inflammation by compressing and supporting underlying tissue. Here's how the technique works via WebMD:
- Rest: Support braces can immobilize joints and sore muscles when performing day-to-day activities, but periods of rest should also be incorporated to promote recovery.
- Ice: ice packs (which are also FSA/HSA/HRA eligible) are a proven method in reducing inflammation and pain that arise after sprains or muscle pulls, and it should be applied continually for 3-4 days after the injury occurs.
- Compression: Support braces also provide a degree of compression therapy to aid in the reduction of swelling and bruising by improving blood flow. These recovery aids should be worn for 1-2 weeks after the injury occurs to prevent further injury and to speed recovery times.
- Elevation: In the immediate aftermath of an injury, make an effort to elevate the affected area above heart level for at least 2 to 3 hours each day. This will help reduce swelling and bruising over time.
Examples of support braces
Some of the most common athletic bandages and braces on the market can treat a wide range of muscle, joint and soft tissue injuries. These include:
- Abdominal Supports & Rib Belts: Abdominal supports can be used to provide back support, relief from hernias and stabilization for the lumbar area. Rib belts are used to help individuals recover from rib fractures and prevent re-injury.
- Orthopedic & Surgical Support: Arm slings, neck collars, back supports and much more are designed to immobilize and prevent re-injury as a result of an immediate injury or to recover from a recent surgery.
- Knee/Ankle/Wrist Braces: These braces are the primary means of treating ankle sprains, soft tissue injuries and ligament tears that result from accidents, sports injuries and other forms of overexertion. Immobilizing the affected area is the primary means of rehabilitating and decreasing recovery time from injuries.