Back Brace for Back Pain

Back bracing may be appropriate treatments for people recovering from serious back surgeries and for people who have spines that are unstable due to a number of spinal conditions. Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine, and is the most common type of spinal condition in which back bracing may be appropriate. Back bracing for scoliosis in some cases may stop the advancing progression of the lateral curvature while an adolescent is still growing; it rarely if ever reverses it. After a scoliosis patient is fully grown, back bracing becomes less useful.

A back brace for back pain is most commonly used in post-operative fusions and in cases of spinal fracture. In these cases, a brace will limit the motion of the spine in the same way that a cast limits the motion of the body, to give the injury or surgically repaired part of the back a chance to heal and not get re-injured. Eventually, the back will heal to the point in which in which it will be healed to the point that patients can once again work and exercise safely. At that point, a person must begin exercising again, because rest alone won't make the back strong again. But until then, a back brace may be worn to keep it safe and stable.

Common back braces include:
  • Soft braces: Soft braces are elastic braces that limit forward motion of the spine. These braces may be worn regularly in occupations that require regular heavy lifting. These elastic braces may be worn to assist in setting spinal fusions. The medical community is divided as to whether or not these soft braces really make people in heavy lifting occupations safer from back injuries. It is though that these braces kind of force workers to be aware of their lifting techniques as they perform them, thereby forcing them to lift more properly and safely. These soft braces make it harder to use improper lifting techniques while lifting heavy loads, such as lifting with the back or lifting while the back is bent.

  • Rigid (Hard) Braces: rigid braces are form-fitting plastic molds that restrict motion by as much as 50%
Scoliosis: Scoliosis is a condition that usually becomes present in early adolescence, and sometimes in late adulthood (degenerative scoliosis). Idiopathic scoliosis is the type that affects children, and there are three subsets of this category that are labeled according to when it first presents itself by inspection or spinal X-Rays: Infantile Scoliosis (birth to 3 years), Juvenile Scoliosis (3-9 years), and Adolescent Scoliosis.

How bad is scoliosis and when must it be treated with back bracing and/or surgery? More commonly, a person with scoliosis is closely monitored rather than treated aggressively with any types of treatments. If the curvature progresses to the point that it causes serious symptoms such as leg pain and numbness, back pain, and difficulty breathing, then certain treatments may be considered.

The three primary treatment options for adolescent scoliosis in which the abnormal curvature is progressing is: observation, back braces, and surgery. Exercises are also important for the patient to do, to keep the back muscles strong and flexible, though it will not go towards correcting the problem.

Back bracing may be appropriate if one of these conditions occur:
  • The curves are more than 30 degrees

  • The spinal curvature progresses more than 5 degrees between physician observation sessions
The Boston brace, Milwaukee brace, Charleston bending brace, SpineCor brace, SPoRT brace, and Cheneau brace are the most common devices that are used for the treatment of adolescent scoliosis.

Other types of braces are used for other types of spinal conditions. For example, the A thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO) is a two piece apparatus that supports the spine from the sacrum to the chest. This device helps to provide stability while a person is recovering from compression fractures.