Over the past few years, more and more patients at Frisco Spinal Rehab have experienced quicker relief and better outcomes using a lumbar support brace. I have to admit, my acceptance and our other doctor’s acceptance of using a lumbar support belt or brace has been a slow process. It has taken multiple studies and results to change our mindset and gain our confidence.
My initial concern over the use of a lumbar support belt was that by limiting motion, the muscles in the lower back would atrophy or become weaker and ultimately the person’s condition would end up worse. Most of the treatment in our office is designed to restore motion thereby reducing pain and increasing function. Anything that limited motion was viewed with skepticism. For example, 40 years ago patients with severe low back pain were told to stay in bed for days or weeks at a time. Studies since then have shown that bed rest prolongs recovery and increases a person’s risk of future episodes of low back pain.
Studies regarding the use of a lumbosacral support brace have shown the short term use of a brace or symptomatic use of a brace does not cause any atrophy at all. In fact one recent study showed a significant increase in paraspinal muscle strength following the use of a brace. Another study showed a 40% decrease in pain immediately with the use of a brace! And a 40% increase in function following 6 weeks of use as well as a 20% reduction in medications over a 90 day period. What do the people who have used the brace really think of it? Statistics show a 95% satisfaction rate and recommendation rate by prior patients.
When we prescribe a lumbar support brace at Frisco Spinal Rehabilitation, our first goal is to decrease pain by increasing the intra-abdominal pressure to provide more stability to the spine as you move. The second goal is to reduce motion in inflamed facet joints. The facet joints are the little joints in the back of the spine that help control and direct motion. The third goal is to provide a static stretch to the erector spinae muscles with the mechanical pressure from the brace. The erector spinae muscles run an inch or two lateral and parallel to the spine. By doing the above, the final goal is to get people with moderate or severe back pain up and moving right away. By restoring normal activity levels, the healing process can be accelerated.
Fifteen to forty five percent of the population experiences low back pain in a given year. Not every one of these people need a lumbar support brace. The conditions we are most likely to prescribe a lumbar support brace for are lumbar disc herniations and bulges, stenosis, sciatica, lumbar instability and cases of low back pain that are unresponsive to chiropractic, medication and physical therapy treatment approaches.
I recently had a patient who wanted to hug me the treatment following fitting her for a brace. She suffers from bulging lumbar discs and is the primary caregiver for her teenage son who is wheelchair bond. She states the difference was “immediate and dramatic” and that her back is final responding to the treatment since she isn’t aggravating it transferring her son all the time. Many of our patients have experienced similar results.
At Frisco Spinal Rehab we use a couple of different brands and styles of braces depending on your particular condition. The braces are always fitted and many health insurances pay for some or most of the cost. Our front office can help you determine what portion your insurance will cover if the brace is deemed medically necessary for your condition.
If you are suffering with a back condition and would like to consult with one of our chiropractors about use of a lumbar support brace feel free to contact us. Even if you’re not a current patient at Frisco Spinal Rehab but you live in the Frisco, TX area we can still advise you regarding the potential benefit of a brace.
Written by David Kaff, DC