Nowadays, back pain is a pretty common problem for people who are aged or doing a desk job. If you are also going through this trouble, a back brace or spine brace can help you in this regard. It has excellent effectiveness against back pain. By making an accurate diagnosis of structural vs non-structural scoliosis you can get specialized care for treatment options tailored to your individual needs.
Now, What does a back brace do? It helps to treat several back problems and injuries. Also, it holds the spine in the proper position, corrects the posture, and reduces the stress on the spine. This brace also provides restrictions on the spine’s excessive movements.
Throughout the article, we will discuss spine braces’ functions, benefits, and drawbacks. You will also learn how often and when to use this brace. So, let’s start.
Table: Overview of Different Types of Braces and Their Functions
Let’s see what different types of back braces can do:
|1||Hyperextension braces||Capable of treating any fracture from spinal compression|
|2||Rigid braces||Restrict the motion of the spine by 50%-60%. This will treat back pain.|
|3||Flexible braces||Keep the forward motion of the spine within a limit.|
|4||Corset braces||Able to reduce the pressure on the spine. Also, treat back pain due to injuries or diseases like disc degeneration.|
|5||Sacroiliac and lumbosacral braces||Reduce pressure from the affected spine zone.|
What Does A Back Brace Do?
This orthotic device can be of different types. And their functions will differ according to their types.
Mainly, all of those braces will provide additional support to the backbone. They will reduce the stress on the spine and also limit the twisting and forward motion of the spine. Here are a few examples of the functions of different types of braces:
1. Hyperextension Braces
Generally, the meet point of the lower back(lumbar spine) and upper back(thoracic spine) are pretty prone to fracture. Also, excessive forward movement can cause pain near this joint.
This orthotic brace will help ease back pain and treat the fracture. This type of brace has three pads that go over the abdominal, on the back and the chest. It will pressurize the chest, pubic bone, and thoracic spine. As a result, it will reduce the front movement of the body and the possibility of compression fractures.
2. Rigid Braces
This type of spine brace contains fabric scraps that will stay around your abdomen. There will also be a few rigid panels on the back, sometimes on the sides. This structure will limit the forward movement of the spine to 50-65% and 70%, respectively.
Another function of this orthotic device is to reduce the weight on the spine. Generally, the fabric that will wrap around your abdomen will put pressure on your abdomen. As a result, the weight will transfer from the spine to your abdomen area.
3. Flexible Braces
The primary function of this type of posture corrector is to restrict the forward movement of the body. It is more flexible than rigid braces, but you can’t bend beyond your knees.
Also, as the flexible material will wrap around your torso, it will take some weight from your spine. As a result, it will reduce some weight on your spine. Besides, it will also relax the tense muscles of your back.
4. Corset Braces
You can consider the corset brace as one of the best back braces. Generally, these corset braces are lightweight and made of clothes. But, according to the need of the spine condition, orthotics can add or remove rigid metal bars within or from it.
If you have any surgery on your lumbar spine, this type of brace will help you in your healing journey. Also, it helps to reduce back pain occurring from any diseases or degenerative discs.
5. Sacroiliac And Lumbosacral Braces
Due to aging or injury, the ligaments of sacroiliac joints can get damaged. Then, these joints can lose their stability.
Excessive movement of these joints can cause pain in the lower back area of your body. A Sacroiliac brace helps to prevent the movement of sacroiliac joints
Also, stress or strain near the lumbar spine can cause pain around that area. A lumbosacral brace can lower back pain by reducing stress from the lumbar spine area.
How Do Back Braces Help To Improve Spinal Condition?
Different types of spine braces help to treat different types of spinal conditions. But, to understand this orthotic brace’s goal, you should know its mechanism. Generally, a spine brace helps improve spinal conditions through the following mechanisms:
1. Spinal Support
Generally, after any spinal surgery or injury, the lower back becomes weak. A spine brace can hold the spine and abdomen comfortably and safely. This will give spinal support to recover you from injury.
2. Shift Stress From The Spine
Usually, the center of your body should be your abdomen, not your spine. But, when you put your support on your spine, it gets a lot of stress. It results in mild to severe back pain.
But a posture corrector will hold the spine in a straightened position. Hence, the stress or weight of the body will shift to the abdomen. As a result, it will correct your posture and reduce back pain.
3. Restrict The Movements Of Spinal Structure
This brace helps restrict painful spine movements like twisting and bending. Mainly, this restriction on these movements can help you heal in post-surgical conditions or after injury.
Also, after using it for a required time, the wearer can consciously restrict their painful movements.
4. Limits Micro-motion
Micro-motion between the joints, discs, or roots on any nerve can cause back pain. A spine brace strongly prevents this type of movement.
When To Use A Back Brace?
The discussion of “what does a back brace do?”, may inspire you to use this brace. But you can’t randomly start using it for its benefits. Here are a few conditions when you should consult an orthopedist for bracing:
- Chronic pain in the lower back
- Disc degeneration
- Spinal injury
- Spinal disorders
- Muscles weakness
- Acute strain
Also, there are several medical conditions when an orthotist recommends using a spinal brace. Because the support of back braces on the spine and the limitations on movement will be helpful in the treatment. The following medical conditions are:
- Healing after a critical spinal operation
- Facet syndrome
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc of the lumbar spine
How Long Can You Use a Back Brace?
This orthotic device is only helpful when you will use them for an appropriate period. Both less or more than that period will result in adverse outcomes. That’s why you should consult a physician.
After checking your spinal conditions through X-ray, he will decide how long you should use the brace. Generally, doctors will prescribe you wear the posture corrector during activities.
But using it all day may reduce the strength of your muscles. That’s why wearing it for 1 to 2 hours per day is usually regular. For more critical or post-surgical conditions, an orthotist can suggest you wear 5-6 hours a day.
If you use less than that recommended time, the brace won’t be able to support your spine enough. As a result, your spinal conditions can get worse.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Wearing Back Braces?
Though wearing a spine brace can provide many benefits, there are several drawbacks too. You must have to consider these side effects while using this brace:
1. Weakens Muscles
This weakening of muscles is termed long-term atrophy. It will happen when you use this orthotic device for a prolonged period. Generally, the muscles a brace will support will lose their strength over time. That’s why you shouldn’t use it for a more extended period than the doctor has prescribed.
When you use a spinal brace, it supports the weight of your spine. So, after using it for a prolonged time, you might feel pressure on your spine when you remove it. That’s why you will feel a range of difficulties during activities when you remove it. Also, without the brace, your back problems can come back.
3. Shifting Of Stress Point
Generally, the primary function of a spinal brace is to shift the stress from the spine to the abdomen. But, sometimes, the pressure can shift to another area of the body due to unforeseen reasons. If this happens, it may cause ligaments or muscle injuries in those body areas.
In this FAQs section, we will answer a few common questions that people ask about a back brace.
1. How Tight Can A Back Brace Be?
A posture corrector should be figure-hugging and tight but comfortable enough. If the tightness of the posture corrector starts to cause pain, it’s not ok. In this case, you have to consult your doctor to readjust it.
2. Can I Lie Down With A Back Brace On?
You can lie down with a posture brace on, but not for too long. Its primary function is correcting posture and immobilizing the lower body during activities. But, immobilizing the body with it while idle may affect your body adversely.
3. Is It Ok To Wear A Spine Brace Without the Consultation Of Any Doctor?
No. You should never try using it without the recommendation of a doctor. Wearing any random posture corrector without a proper diagnosis of spine condition, may cause more severe back pain issues.
A posture corrector or back brace has both benefits and drawbacks. We tried eliminating confusion regarding “what does a back brace do?” Simply, it will provide supplementary support for your backbone and will assist the healing after back injuries.
If you wear it according to the suggestion of an orthotist, you can surely overcome your back pain complications. Ensure you are not wearing the brace for longer than the doctor suggested.