Patients experience low back pain for a number of different reasons. Because of the wide variety of causes to low back pain, there is also a wide variety of ways to treat the pain. One of the treatment methods individuals use is to wear a low back support brace. As more research has become available on treating back pain effectively, doctors and chiropractors are starting to caution their patients against using back braces for certain conditions. There are certain conditions and injuries that require a back brace as part of treatment, however chronic low back pain, arthritis, and pinched nerves DO NOT require a brace, and can actually make the issue worse.
Back braces are used to give support to an area that is unstable. Stability in the back comes from the large number of joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles that all work together to allow motion within a healthy range. For any injury that damages the joints, ligaments or muscles so severely that they can no longer provide support, a back brace may be needed for a certain period of time, while that damaged tissue heals. This usually occurs with a trauma that is so severe that is actually causes a break in the back, putting the spinal cord at risk. Other examples would be immediately following an invasive back procedure, or individuals with severe scoliosis that is compromising the spine and the surrounding tissue. However, more common causes of back pain are not this severe.
Patients that have chronic back pain from arthritis, muscular overuse, poor posture, or even have a pinched nerve, should not use a back brace to help the pain. It will not provide relief. The reason for your pain is not instability, so to use a tool that gives you artificial stability does not make sense. The theory of, “if you don’t use it, you lose it'“ applies here. If you use a back brace, the muscles that provide support in your back “turn off” in a sense. The brace takes on the responsibility of the muscles, which if used over very long periods of time, can allow the muscles to become dangerously weak, making you dependent on the brace. This may even put you at a greater risk for future injury.
Movement is medicine for chronic back pain caused by less severe traumas. At Rochester ChiroTherapy, we use a combination of passive and active therapies and lifestyle modifications to help you cope with your pain naturally. We focus on strengthening and rehabilitating the damaged tissue causing your pain. Chiropractic adjustments, spinal rehab exercises, deep tissue muscle work, yoga, and mobilization exercises are highly recommended in opposition to using a back brace.
If you or someone you know is experiencing back pain and is contemplating using a back brace, give us a call. As the fastest growing chiropractic office in Rochester, New York, we are here to answer all your back pain questions.