A back pain support brace is commonly worn to prevent injury or help alleviate the symptoms of a variety of conditions. While there are actual uses for a brace, many patients do not understand the reasons why it is or is not effective for their particular condition. Learning the facts about back braces will help a patient decide if the device is worth using to relieve their painful condition.
In our experience, we find that some less ethical care providers actively sell these types of braces to patients, despite the product having little, if any, verifiable benefits. In order to prevent yourself from wasting time and money on some over-sized and over-priced rubber band, be sure to understand the various types of support braces and how each is utilized effectively.
This discussion helps patients to separate fact from myth when it comes to the most popular varieties of support brace for the back and neck.
A support brace is different than an orthotic brace used for conditions such as scoliosis or other spinal curvatures. Support braces are generally soft and pliable, typically being manufactured of elastic, vinyl and velcro, acting very much like a wide belt worn around the symptomatic area of the back.
Support braces can be used for a variety of reasons such as:
Support braces can limit movement or provide added support while recovering from a back injury or spinal surgery.
Braces can provide reinforced protection for back muscles while performing heavy manual labor.
Support braces can increase direct pressure to multiply the healing effects of heat, ice or topical medications.
It must be said that while support braces can provide some of these benefits, they must be well designed and indicated for the particular condition to be treated. The majority of patients who utilize support braces do so without necessary cause and choose devices which are not even meant to provide the benefit requested.
Support braces should not be used in an attempt to eliminate spinal motion, since their design will not prevent movement within the vertebral joints. A brace will not grant immunity from muscular back pain due to fatigued or overworked muscles.
A brace will also not support muscles adequately to allow an individual to safely lift very heavy objects beyond their natural abilities.
A brace should not be worn to increase pressure with certain types of irritating topical ointments or creams. A brace should also not be used with extreme heat or ice therapy. A brace should not be worn so tight as to threaten proper circulation.
Do not place too much confidence in a brace. It will assist in protecting your back muscles to some extent, but it will not allow you to do things which would normally be inadvisable. Make sure to speak to your doctor or physical therapist before using any brace for back pain relief.
I used several types of braces throughout my chronic lumbar back pain experience. I thought they might help my condition during martial arts training and other strenuous physical exertions. Some braces were provided to me by a few different doctors and chiropractors.
I tried Velcro, elastic and leather varieties and found them to be mostly annoying, restricting and useless. However, I do know that a brace can work well for some types of back pain, especially as a preventative measure against injury. Finding the correct brace for your condition is a crucial factor if the device has any chance of working for you.
If you are not advised to use a brace for a highly specific reason, do not waste your time. A brace will never cure back pain and the average patient will only benefit from the placebo effect imparted by the support. Instead of finding the correct brace for a chronic treatment resistant back pain syndrome, it is highly advisable to seek out a true cure instead.
Be wary of chiropractors and doctors who recommend a particular type of brace and just happen to have them for sale. In most cases, this is marketing, not medicine, and should be condemned.