Patients often ask me if they should use a back brace for their low back pain, and my answer in almost all cases “no”. I have dealt with back pain since I was about 10 years old, and have often been recommended to get a back brace over the last 20 years, but that wasn’t one of my solutions to get better.
Pain anywhere in the body is a sign that something isn’t right. Its purpose is to allow the body to react and prevent further injury. Pain is the body’s last signal to you that something isn’t right, but the dysfunction has been there for a longer time.
Low back pain is one of the most common conditions in today’s society and there are more treatment options out there than I can count. A back brace is one of them, but it might not be the best approach to your back pain.
Why do I have back pain and how do I get rid of it?
Back pain usually shows up because of poor posture, extended hours of sitting, lack of movement, poor biomechanics, muscle imbalances, injury during exercise, or heavy lifting. The best way to decrease pain is to address the causes of it and change habits that might have led to it to help prevent reoccurrence.
Will a back brace help?
A back brace will give you support, but in the long run it won’t be beneficial because you won’t be relying on your own muscles to perform the activities you need to do. Remember that the pain is there to tell you to stop, and the brace will probably help you do things you should not be doing, which can lead to even more pain and dysfunction. The brace will take away the job of the muscles that support your spine, which will lead to them being weaker than they were when the pain started. This might make you more vulnerable to further injuries. We need the opposite to happen, and that is for the muscles to get stronger.
The brace will also put more load on the areas above and below the brace because now they need to take over the work the low back did before. That can lead to pain patterns in other areas of the body.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been dealing with back pain for a long time and tried many things that have not helped, and many things that have helped. The most important part is to get your spine and pelvis to move the way it was meant to. Figure out what areas need to be strengthened or stretched and, most importantly, make sure you are moving around as much as possible.