Back Support Myths and Indications for Spinal Bracing

In general, any patient with a musculoskeletal disorder who might benefit from immobilization, unloading of the compressive forces on the spine, or postural correction may be a suitable candidate for spinal bracing. In a study reported in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Perry found that orthopaedic surgeons were divided concerning indications for the use of spinal bracing. While less than 25% advocated the use of bracing for acute strains, post operative discs, or disc syndromes, the vast majority did utilize bracing for the treatment of postoperative fusions and the treatment of spondylolisthesis.

Given the unloading, stabilizing, and proprioceptive feedback effects of spinal bracing, patients experiencing the following conditions may benefit from spinal bracing:

  • Acute sprains and strains
  • Post surgical fusion, laminectomy, discectomy
  • Congenital or traumatic instability
  • Disc herniation
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Postural backache
  • Fractures
  • Degenerative joint/disc disease

A well-fitting, comfortable back support can increase patient confidence and encourage early movement, decreasing the negative effects of immobilization and time away from work and/or recreation. Patients may need to be reminded to avoid overdoing activities until full rehabilitation is achieved. The key to success while using back supports is to incorporate their use into a comprehensive active spine care program.

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