Do you have back pain? Wondering whether getting a back brace is the best way to help your back pain?
Do back braces work & what type of brace would be best for me?
Tom, a Spinal and Sports Physiotherapist in Adelaide, answers all these questions and more all about back braces. A must watch video!
Full Transcript of the video is below:
Hi, my name is Tom Peters, sports Physiotherapist here at myPhysioSA in Adelaide.
A really commonly asked question that we get from patients is with regards to back braces for low back pain. Patients often want to know if they should get a back brace to help them with their back pain and also what type of brace is going to be right for them.
Despite the fact that back braces are, are really commonly used and worn in the in the community, the evidence to support their use is, is a little bit flimsy, if I’m honest. We need to be really judicious about their use, make sure that we’re picking the right patients for the right brace. In a vast majority of cases when a patient comes in to speak to me about, uh, getting a back brace, they’ll in fact walk back out of the clinic without one. I certainly would prefer to give them some really good advice around some exercises, and some movement therapies, and some, some management tools rather than throwing a brace at them straightaway.
There certainly are some scenarios where a back brace can be useful. First of all, we just need to think about: What does the back brace actually do? How does it help us? Well, it probably helps us on a couple of levels. First of all, it, it can prevent us from getting right to the very end of range of our movements. So, for example, if somebody only tends to get their back pain when they’re bending right at the extremes, then a back brace can just help to keep them away from those provocative positions.
Another really important aspect to the back brace is that it provides a little bit of sensory information. It gives us some more feedback as to what position our back is in at any given time. So, that’s called ‘proprioception.’ Now that can be really helpful for people that are experiencing back pain.
Finally, I think that another reason that we sometimes will prescribe a back brace is for confidence. Sometimes people are really struggling to convince themselves that it’s a sensible option to start moving, and sometimes a brace can be something that just gives a little bit more confidence in their abilities to, to help to get them up and going again.
So, back braces come in all different shapes and sizes, and one brace might be right for one person and certainly not right for another. So, we need to be judicious in their use. This particular brace that I’ve got here, for example, is predominantly used in pregnancy, for back pain in pregnancy. It’s, as you can see, relatively thin. It doesn’t have much in terms of structural support, whereas the braces might go right up to significantly broader and taller, having lots more structural support with different inserts, bits and pieces. Sometimes you’ll even see them with, with straps that come right up and over your shoulders.
I guess the take-home message there is that there’s such a, a wide variety of braces out there, and no one person’s back pain presentation is the same. It’s really important that you get in to discuss with an expert, whether it be a physio or your doctor, about what brace might be right for you, if any brace at all, for that matter.
Before asking a patient to purchase a back brace, I would certainly give them the opportunity to test it out in the clinic. You wouldn’t go into a shoe store and buy an expensive pair of shoes without trying it on first, so I think that the same rule should apply when you’re in the clinic. Let’s take the example of somebody with back pain right at the end of their, their bending range, for example. I would ask them to perform a forward bending movement, tell me about their pain, pop the brace back on, and ask them to perform that same movement. And, if it gives them some relief of their symptoms, well, at least that might point us in, in the direction to suggest that the back brace is going to be useful for them. It’s really important that you give them the opportunity to try your brace on before you fork out this quite a significant sum of money to go and buy that brace.
So, if this sounds like you, and you’d like to discuss your back pain and whether or not a brace is suitable for your situation, we have specialist spinal Physiotherapists working with us here at myPhysioSA that would love to help you that deal with these types of situations all of the time.
Get in contact. Make an appointment. We’d love to help you out.
Senior Associate myPhysioSA Physiotherapist