What Back Brace Should I Use for Lower Back Pain?
Pain in the lower back can be the
result of many conditions, including strains, sprains, spinal
stenosis, degenerated or herniated disc, scoliosis, osteoarthritis,
spinal cord injury, and more. Before rushing out to buy a back brace,
itís important for you to be properly diagnosed by a medical
practitioner. If your doctor thinks that a brace will benefit you, a
particular type will be recommended, for example, a lumbar-sacral
corset, a thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), or a chair-back lumbar
brace. Each type of brace is specially designed to help with a
particular situation, providing support for the trunk of the body and
keeping the spine in the optimum position for healing.
Back braces differ in the amount of
mobility your spine is allowed, ranging from total immobility to
gentler support that reminds you to use your core abdominal muscles
in order to maintain good posture.
For lower back pain, particularly for
degenerative disc conditions and pain resulting from overstretching,
a lumbar support belt can help relieve discomfort. Bear in mind that
there is no research that definitely confirms wearing this type of
belt will protect from injury or aid in lifting heavy weights.
A sacroiliac joint (SIJ) belt or corset
provides adjustable restriction of movement through the sacrum.
Rigid back braces obviously restrict
movement to a greater degree than support belts and corsets. A
chair-back brace has a 3-point pressure system that controls flexion
and extension (bending and stretching) of the lumbosacral area and
also some sideways stretching. A Knight brace is similar, but
restricts sideways movement more than the chair-back brace. Other
types of brace, such as the Williams flexion, the Taylor, the
Knight-Taylor, the Jewett, and the CASH (cruciform anterior spinal
hyperextension) are available that provide varying degrees of
TLSOs control movement to the greatest
degree of all spinal orthoses. These are lightweight, polypropylene,
custom-molded braces that are relatively easy to take off and put on,
allowing for regular skin inspection and easy bathing. They are
particularly suited for the treatment of spinal fractures or low back
A Raney jacket is a smaller version of
a TLSO, therefore potentially more suitable for lower back pain.
A pneumatic decompression brace can be
used many times daily, but should not be worn continually. It
provides lumbar support, offloading up to 50 percent of body weight
from the spine onto the hipbones. These braces are often used to
treat disc disorders, stenosis, facet syndrome, and stable
Be aware that a back brace is
considered a temporary measure. If you wear yours for too long or too
often, you risk weakening the core body muscles that naturally
support the spine. The result of that can be decreased mobility in
your spine, which increases your dependency on the brace. Follow
medical advice and wean yourself off the brace when you can.
Here are some suggestions for braces
for particular conditions, but always follow medical advice:
Compression fracture: TLSO,
Disc degeneration: soft corset,
pneumatic lumbar vest.
Facet disorder: soft corset with
stays or inserts, pneumatic decompression for chronic cases.
Myofascial and muscle pain:
lumbar best, elastic low-profile corset without stays.
Pregnancy: low-profile soft
corset with stays in back.
Sacroiliac disorder: non-elastic
sacroiliac joint belt with Velcro closure.
Boston overlap, Raney jacket, Williams flexion, chairback.
molded lumbosacral, semi-rigid, chair-back.