Does Wearing a Brace Reduce Back Pain?

Does Wearing a Brace Reduce Back Pain?

I frequently get asked if it’s a good idea to wear a brace for back pain. When you walk into any pharmacy or sporting goods store, you’ll be able to find a variety of lumbar/ back supports.... Because these braces are readily available, it’s tempting to purchase one of these braces in attempt to alleviate pain and discomfort before seeking professional advice. That’s not necessarily a good idea. I personally prefer my patients not to use braces unless absolutely necessary. Generally braces should not be worn regularly, unless it is immediately following a surgical procedure and prescribed by their surgeon. Regular use of a brace can actually weaken your muscles and put you more at risk for further injury.

Here are some of the drawbacks of using a back brace:

  1. Concern that long term use of back braces may result in atrophy of the muscles that support the spine. The muscles and ligaments weaken do to the support of the brace.

  2. Since muscles and ligaments weaken over time with the use of a brace, the spine becomes more vulnerable when the brace is not being worn. The spine then is at higher risk for injury than it would have been had the brace not been used.

  3. Wearing a brace can give you a false sense of security and cause you to lift objects that are too heavy or perform repetitive activities without proper body mechanics or ergonomic setup.

If you have been using a brace on a regular basis, it is not recommended that you suddenly stop, as your body is now dependent on the brace. You will need to wean yourself off of the brace gradually over several weeks.

Please consult your physician or physical therapist if you have any questions regarding a brace.

Angela Yekrangi, PT, DPT, COMT is the founder of Cutting Edge Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Orange County, California. She has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University, Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University, and BS in Kinesiology from California State Polytechnic College. Dr. Yekrangi also trained in Australia, where she received her Certification in Orthopedic Manual Therapy (COMT). Prior to opening her own practice in 2010, she worked as a physical therapist at the University of California Irvine Medical Center, gaining substantial experience treating patients with dystonia and Parkinson’s disease.