The low back or the lumbar spine is susceptible to many injuries and pain.
Although most people use the general term low back pain (LBP) to describe all of the painful conditions of the back, these pain syndromes are in fact rather complicated because many structures in the lumbar region can cause your LBP.
Spine alignment braces, also known as back braces are a common non-surgical treatment approach for these low back pain issues.
But how does a brace actually help? And why should you ask an Orthotist to prescribe you a back brace for best results?
Keep reading as we explore these questions and the relation of a spine alignment brace to low back pain relief in detail.
What’s a Spine Alignment Brace?
Spine alignment braces are devices used to correct your misaligned back. Commonly known as a back brace, Orthotists use this to help patients with a variety of conditions and pain syndromes.
The back brace comes in several designs and for the different regions of the back; upper back (Cervico-thoracic), mid-back (thoracic) and low back (thoracic-lumbar).
But the working mechanisms of all spine alignment braces are similar. These tend to produce traction between your vertebrae [bones of the spine] to reduce tension on muscles, improve postural awareness and control, and bring your spine back into its anatomical alignment.
The spine alignment braces can be rigid, semi-rigid and flexible which your Orthotist will prescribe according to your condition.
These back braces are made of different materials. The rigid ones have vertical supports made of metal or plastic, with straps to wrap the brace around your body.
The semi-rigid and flexible spine alignment braces are commonly made of synthetic rubber and breathable mesh materials.
General Causes of Low Back Pain
For an otherwise healthy adult who has an acute complaint of low back pain, the causes are mostly lumbar muscle strains or mechanical.
Here’re some general causes of low back pain for which your Orthotist can prescribe a spine alignment brace:
- Mechanical Low Back Pain
Bad posture while sitting, standing or lifting over time damages the muscles of the back and the vertebrae alignment.
That leads to mechanical low back pain which is aggravated by heaving lifting or long days at work.
- Stability Issues
Spinal instability arises due to weakened bones, ligaments, muscles, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint conditions.
The muscles surrounding the spine overwork due to instability issues and that leads to a dull and constant low back pain.
- Disk Slippage or Isthmic Spondylolisthesis
Disk slippage happens when one vertebra slips over the other, commonly resulting in a small fracture as well. Patients report a deep ache in the low back in such cases.
The condition usually becomes chronic if left untreated and leads to long-term LBP.
- Compression of Spine
A decrease in the space between the vertebrae leads to pain in the low back region. That’s also a risk factor for compression fractures that can pinch the nerves and lead to a more severe low back radiating pain.
- Sudden Low Back Pain Due to Muscle Strain
Sometimes you tweak your back while shovelling snow or playing catch with your kids. That leads to LBP because your muscles overwork, overstretch, tear or go into spasm.
Since the lower back needs these muscles to maintain the upright posture, any damage to them leads to LBP.
How a Spine Alignment Brace Reduces Low Back Pain
Scoliosis is a major cause of LBP for which a spine alignment brace is used. This brace helps reduce the pain in such spinal deformities by forcing the spine back into its position by continuous pressure, increasing or decreasing over time.
Here’re five more ways that a spine alignment brace can reduce low back pain:
- Corrects Posture
A back brace helps maintain the spine in the correct posture and brings the spinal segments back in their original healthy alignment.
It also shifts your weight to the abdomen to unload the spine. That’s helpful to fix the inward curvature of the lumbar spine [medical terminology: Lordosis] and thus treats some of the mechanical causes of LBP.
- Provides Stability to Structures
The rigid back brace adds stability to the spine by providing external support. That also relieves the muscles of the extra load and tension they endure due to the instability of the bony structures.
Spine alignment braces are almost always used as part of a comprehensive back treatment program. So while your Physical therapist trains the muscles of the back to increase stability, the brace helps add support and reduce pain in the meantime.
- Limits Unusual Range of Motion
A back brace or spine alignment brace helps reduce low back pain by limiting the extreme range of motion activities and preventing any pinching of nerves by aligning the back perfectly.
Limiting motion gives time to the body to heal itself. The back brace makes sure that there’s no additional damage to the structures while also reducing pain by avoiding the motions that aggravate the LBP.
- Provides a Favorable Environment for Healing
A back brace takes the pressure off of the strained muscles to give them ample time to heal in a favorable environment.
The spine alignment brace takes over some of the work the postural muscles perform. That reduces the low back pain and speeds up your recovery.
Using a rigid or dynamic spine alignment brace creates a space between the vertebrae.
That helps treat low back pain caused by compression issues. Thus the brace enables you to perform activities of daily living with ease.
It not only reduces pain significantly but also improves the quality of life.
Low back pain can be exhausting. It limits your movements and keeps you from doing the things you love.
If you’re suffering from acute or chronic LBP and need to find a solution, contact us or book an appointment with our Orthotists to get yourself checked out.
Our state-of-the-art orthotic treatment techniques using a spine alignment brace can help you get back to living your life to the fullest!