The idea behind the toenail brace is to lift up the side(s) of the nail and at the same time force the nail into a normal flat structure
- pretty much like the dentist does to correct our teeth.
Toenail bracing as a corrective measure for ingrown toenails has been around for 140 years.
The 1873 Stedman-brace was later described and illustrated by one of the pioneers in American foot care, Dr. William Mathias Scholl (1915) in The Human Foot. Anatomy, deformities and treatment. A text book for the student and practitioner, Chicago, Foot Specialist Publishing Co, page 290f.
Since then more than 40 different braces have been patented. However, the idea didn't really pick up speed until the Scottish chiropodist Ross Fraser contemplated a way to correct the nail by bending a piece of spring wire around the edges of the nail with an omega-loop at the top, and managed to spread the word and put the idea into production.
This was way back in 1960, but to my knowledge, the Ross Fraser technique is still the primary one used in Denmark today.
Since then, several companies and scientist, especially in Germany, have been working on developing this technique, working on improvement to the original design and producing new ways of dealing with an ingrown toenail without surgery.
The Lever Principle is typically established by making a small loop in the wire, and The Parallelogram of Forces is controlled by the tension of the wire or the thickness of the plastic compound.
Toenail braces are typically made out of a special spring wire (stainless steel), out of a plastic compound etc. or made out of a combination of those, and they basically come in 3 different forms:
Some of the braces have to be adjusted every 2-3 months, others every 12-18 months, and the total period of treatment typically corresponds with the time it takes for a nail-growth circle - about 1½ year.
For decades, Denmark - like many other European countries, have treated ingrown toenails with the use of toenail braces, and today the bracing technique is similarly used in many other countries all around the world:
A selection of clinics using toenail braces around the world
Europe outside EU
Central AmericaMexico - 14 clinics
AustraliaAustralia - Samford
In Denmark, the typical way to deal with an ingrown toenail is that your general practitioner provides you with a referral to get treatment at your local foot therapist.
The foot therapist then fits a brace on your toenail, that’s it!
On this site I’ve included links to sites in sites in Denmark, Germany etc., but if your Danish, German etc. is a bit rusty, you can always use Google Translate.