Back braces come in all shapes and sizes, and there are many valid reasons to temporarily use a rigid or soft brace. Before you make such an investment, take a moment to consider signs that suggest you may benefit from the use of some type of spine-supporting device.
Muscle Contractions or Spasms
Muscle strain is the leading cause of lower back pain and a common trigger of muscle spasms caused by inflammation and irritation. If your flexors, rotators, obliques, and other spine-supporting muscles have been affected by certain movements, especially repetitive ones, modifying your activities and wearing a brace to allow soft tissues to naturally heal could help. Bracing may also make it easier to do recommended physical therapy exercises that further minimize your back-related muscle spasms.
Spine Curvature or Narrowing
Abnormal spinal curvature (scoliosis) is a common reason to wear a back brace. If a brace is worn for this purpose, it will likely be during adolescence when the spine is still developing. Braces may also be recommended for narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back (lumbar spinal stenosis).
If your spine pain is linked to your posture, you may benefit from the short-term use of a back brace to maintain proper alignment. However, you should also take steps to correct the issues that contributed to your poor posture in the first place, which may include:
- Sitting with your feet firmly on the ground
- Avoiding continuous sitting for long periods
- Modifying sleep positions or getting a more supportive mattress
- Making an effort to stretch and get regular exercise
- Shifting your position frequently when you sit or stand
- Keeping your head aligned with your shoulders
- Scheduling an appointment with a Los Angeles spine surgeon
Degenerative disc disease (age-related spinal disc wear) and nerve compression are among the possible spine-related issues that could affect mobility. In some instances, wearing a supportive brace takes pressure off of certain parts of the spine and makes it easier to get around.
Non-Specific Low Back Pain
Lower back pain without a clear cause may make it difficult to walk, lift, or bend. If you can’t modify your activities enough to minimize such movements, a back brace could offer some relief by limiting lower spine movements. You may also benefit from a brace if you are experiencing:
- Numbness or tingling sensations in your lower back
- Weakness extending to your feet or legs (possibly from sciatic nerve irritation)
- Issues with a loss of spine height
Preventative Brace Wearing
Back braces are sometimes worn for preventative reasons. If, for instance, your work duties involve regular lifting and bending, you may benefit from a lumbar support brace. The same thing is true if you stand for long periods. Brace use may also be recommended as you heal from spine surgery to prevent reinjury during recovery.
Get some input from your doctor before opting for a back brace. In some cases, immobilizing your spine may make things worse, mask a source of pain that should be treated with other methods, or simply not help due to the nature of the issue with your spine or its supporting parts. Finally, remember bracing isn’t meant to be a permanent solution. You’ll still be better off by getting an accurate diagnosis so more specific treatments can be recommended.
For many people, the solution for chronic back pain is undergoing a minimally invasive spinal procedure such as XLIF surgery. Los Angeles patients rely on Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons to help them find a solution for relieving their pain. Call The Spine Institute today at 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.