Back braces are devices intended to limit the movement of the spine in the event of a fracture or in post-operative fusions. It also acts as a preventive measure against some advanced health conditions. Reducing movement of the spine and back muscles boosts the healing process of the bone in fractures or post-operative fusions. Back braces will therefore help in reducing the back pain and discomfort of the back while in motion.
Currently, there are different types of back braces in the market that can be used to manage severe back pain, improve posture or even treat a mild back injury. These devices are designed to give targeted support that will let you do your daily activities without any qualms. In this article we are going to talk a little able the main types of back braces out there. With a wide array of back braces out there we get a lot of confusion from patients trying to make a choice of a back brace they need, so we wanted to make it as easier for you to arrive at your decision. There are two types of back braces commonly used to limit the movement of the spine. This includes rigid braces and Corset/Elastic braces.
Rigid Braces are usually intended to reduce low back pain and instability by at least 50%. If more firmness is required to offer support to the spine than is found in ordinary back support, then rigid frame spinal bracing is every so often prescribed. These rigid braces entail rear uprights that reflect the outline of your low back and pelvis. They are also fitted with bands to lie across the upper back and fabric belts to apply pressure on the abdomen. There are three types of rigid braces.
- Raney Flexion Jacket: It applies more weight to the front and lessens the pressure on the low back by safeguarding the lumbar spine in a neutral angle. They are known to reduce the effects of Lordosis, a condition associated with abnormal inward curve of the lumbar spine.
- Chairback brace: It limits your ability to bend and restrains movement of your low back. It provides low back pain relief and spinal post-operative stability.
- Williams Brace: It has a front elastic band to facilitate movement forward but side uprights to limit movement from side to side.
The other type of back braces is Corsets/Elastic Braces which resemble the ordinary corsets worn by women in earlier centuries. It is fitted with a flexible fabric that is fastened around a person’s back side and shoulder straps to hold them up. This enables them to provide firmness and support for the back during stress. They also come in different lengths prescribed according to your condition. A shorter corset will be prescribed for low back pain while a longer corset will be used for pain in the middle to lower thoracic spine.
Regardless of the type of braces prescribed for you, with the help of an orthotist (a professional who designs and fits braces), you can acquire the right type and size of back brace to help you on your healing journey.
How to Use Back Braces
Back braces might not offer a permanent solution to back pain but they definitely help in the recovery process. They help by providing extra support to your lumbar spine and muscles. Keeping your back in the right posture, helps in preventing the herniated disc from bulging and touching your spinal nerves. For this reason, it helps lessen the pain brought about by this condition. Back braces will help support your back as you continue with your daily activities such as bending and stretching. It helps reduce the strain on the back muscles as you bend or stretch due to its stable nature.
Before leaving the orthopedics office, ensure that you get instructions on how to apply your brace since it is required that you wear it all the time unless otherwise instructed. Until your spine is fully healed which may be as short as 6 weeks or extend to as long as 4 to 6 months, it is advised that you remove your braces only when you sleep and put it back before getting out of bed.
Steps to apply braces
- Start by lying flat on your bed.
- Detach the two parts of the brace.
- Roll over sideways to align your shoulders, hips and knees.
- Apply the rear side of the brace properly to your back.
- Cautiously and slowly roll over to your back to apply the brace.
- Then, apply the front part of the brace to the belly. Secure the straps firmly starting from the bottom until the top to your comfort.
It is advised that you loosen your straps to allow expansion of the abdomen while eating. Since generally the human body will get sweaty and uncomfortable, it is also important that you know how to care for your brace to keep it clean. You may clean and refresh your brace with a mild soap and wet cloth and then let it dry. If your brace has fabric padding, then ensure to dry it with a hair dryer on cool mode to ensure the inside is not dump.
Your brace will restrict movement of the spine but allow mobility of other parts of your body hence it is important that you avoid bending or straining your spine. If you are moving from a lying to a standing position, roll over to the side and use your arms to support you up to a sitting position before you can stand. Also important is to always follow your doctor’s and physiotherapists’ instructions and guidelines.