A while back I was talking to a patient of mine who has been dealing with back pain for a couple of months. She had been feeling better with chiropractic adjustments and exercising but had a bad flare up. She was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to help out around the holidays with cooking and decorating since it required a lot of standing and lifting which made her back really hurt. She asked if she should buy a back brace and if that would help with her back pain. I want to go over what I told her and when you should and should not get a back brace.
Firstly let’s go over what a back brace does. The most common area to use a back brace is in your lower back or lumbar region of your spine. A back brace is meant to help stabilize your lower back with outside support. It does this by wrapping snuggly around your lower back and core muscles. By doing so it does decrease movement in your lumbar spine. This can help provide stiffness and help you experience less pain when doing moving around. It also helps encourage keeping your back straight and helps to maintain your posture.
I have no problem with the use of back brace when necessary, however, I see the use of back brace as a crutch not as a long term solution. Normally your lower back muscles and abdominal muscles which combine as your core muscles are what stabilizes your spine. By having strong core muscles your lower back should have more stability which will allow you to get rid of most lower back pain and prevent pain in the future. When using a back brace you are using the brace to stabilize your core which bypasses your stabilizing muscles. That can be ok short term if your are severe acute pain, however, over reliance on the back brace can cause your core to be weak and for a dependence on the back brace.
Back to the story. I explained this to my patient and as she had been working on her core stability already I had recommended her not to get the back brace. I didn’t want to her lose the progress that she had been making. I also reminded her that it is normal to have flare up but with adjustments as needed and keeping up with regular strengthening exercises the flare ups will get fewer and farther between.
If you have questions about whether a back brace will be helpful for your condition call today to make an appointment and we can go over this together.