Lumbar braces are external devices used to restrict movement of the lumbar spine and provide support and stability to the lower back region to relieve back pain and promote healing, after surgery or injury. Braces are also called orthotics and are made from different materials such as nylon, rubber, molded plastic and elastic cotton. The basic function of braces is to:
- Immobilize the spine, which helps healing
- Stabilize the injured area
- Manage pain by limiting the movement
Basically, braces are of two types, soft and hard braces. Soft braces provide support to the muscles and allows free movement while the hard braces limit the movement.
Soft lumbar corset
A soft lumbar corset provides supports to the affected muscles of the lower back. A lumbar corset is recommended to the patient suffering from conditions such as major arthritis, mild lumbar instability and low back pain. The lumbar corset prevents excessive movement of the lower back and promotes proper body posture. Long-term use of the soft lumbar corset can lead to weakening of the lumbar muscles. Therefore, the braces should only be used for a specified time, as recommended by the doctor, along with regular muscle strengthening exercises.
Rigid lumbar braces
A rigid brace is recommended for providing additional immobilization, to minimize the risk of further injury, in conditions such as spinal fractures, unstable spine surgery and other related disorders. The rigid brace provides external stability to the affected spinal area for better healing.
The brace specialist is called an orthotist who is trained in different fields such as anatomy, biomechanics, material engineering, physical science and other related fields. In some cases, braces are fitted in consultation with an orthotist, as per the requirements of the treatment and condition of the patient. Your doctor may recommend the specific time-period for wearing the braces, which may range from weeks to months, depending on the condition and the type of disorder. Physical therapy may also be recommended along with braces.
Patients wearing lumbar braces should avoid activities that put undue strain on the affected area such as driving, lifting, etc. Follow the instruction of your doctor for taking baths and performing other activities. If the patient is recommended to take a shower with the brace, then at the end of the shower the braces should be cleaned properly.