If you are diagnosed with a spinal disorder, deformity, or potential problem that can by helped through the use of external structural support, your physician may recommend the use of a neck or back brace. Neck and back braces are most often used to treat low back pain, trauma, infections, muscular weakness, neck conditions, and osteoporosis. They immobilize and support the spine when there is a condition that needs to be treated. Depending on the model that is used, they can put the spine in a neutral, upright, hyper-extended, flexed, or lateral-flexed position.
Spinal braces are used for a variety of reasons – to control pain, lessen the chance of further injury, allow healing to take place, compensate for muscle weakness, and prevent or correct a deformity. They offer a safe, non-invasive way to prevent future problems or to help you heal from a current condition. Though the effects of bracing are primarily positive, they can lead to a loss of muscle function due to inactivity. Bracing can sometimes lead to psychological addiction, so that even when a person is healed and ready to be taken off the back brace, he or she feels dependent upon it for physical support.
The use of braces is widely accepted. They are effective tools in the treatment of spine disorders. In fact, more than 99% of orthopedic physicians advocate using them.
Braces are not new – they have actually been around for centuries. Lumbosacral (lum-bo-sack-ral) corsets (for the lower back) were used as far back as 2000 B.C.! Bandage and splint braces were used in 500 A.D. to treat scoliosis. Recently, braces have become a popular way to help prevent primary and secondary lower back pain from ever occurring.
There are more than 30 types of back supports available for spine disorders. Some of the most common types are described below:
Neck braces stabilize the cervical spine after neck surgery, trauma to the neck, or as an alternative to surgery. They are the type of spinal brace you most commonly see people wearing. There are several types available, including: