back pain back braces

Many people use them to relieve pain, but do back braces work?  Below, we look at the pros and cons of using them.

A back brace is a device used to support the lower half of the back. It is worn to reduce stress and strain on the joints, bones, and muscles in the back, especially during daily physical activity.

There are two types of braces; rigid, and soft/elastic. Rigid braces and firm lumbar support braces are generally used for serious back conditions, serious injury, and post-surgery. They are ordered by a surgeon or physical therapist.

The second type of brace is made of neoprene and can be bought from your local pharmacy or sporting goods store.  It’s this neoprene type of brace that most people use as a self-help treatment for lower back pain.

Among the most common reasons adults use a back brace are:

  • Acute low back pain
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle Strain in the back
  • Osteoarthritis in the back
  • Postural Problems

But can wearing a back brace really help?

The Pros of Using a Back Brace

  • Provides additional support for the muscles and bones in your lower back which helps relieve your back pain.
  • For acute back injuries, a brace aids faster healing by relieving excessive demand placed on the specific joints in the affected area.
  • Supports your abdomen and takes some of the load off your lower back. This helps relieve any relieves stress, strain or pain in your back.
  • Makes rising from a sitting to a standing position more comfortable during an episode of back pain.
  • If your job involves heavy lifting, a brace makes lifting easier by limiting your motion and acting as a reminder to keep your back straight (not bent forward). This makes you use the large muscles in your legs to do the lifting, instead of taking the strain on your back.
  • Helps retrain your muscles so that your back will maintain an upright position without a lot of effort. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, have a habit of slouching, or you are not particularly active, you may lose muscle tone. By using a back brace for your posture, you can begin building those muscles and begin to stand upright.

 

The Cons of Using a Back Brace

  • Lack of scientific evidence that they are effective for back pain. A 2009 study concluded there was no benefit. However, there have been reported benefits by users.
  • Long-term use of a back brace can result in weakened muscles and reduce your range of movement. If you use a brace for too long, your muscles and ligaments do not have to work and so will become weak through lack of use. As a result, when you are not wearing the brace, the spine is vulnerable and at greater risk of injury. Long-term use can lead to the very situation you were trying to avoid. If you use a brace, limit the use to a few hours a day.

So there are the pros and cons, but what’s the conclusion. Do back braces work?

Well, back braces cannot cure your back problems or in most cases prevent you from developing them but using a back brace can be beneficial alongside other treatments.

 

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