If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition, disorder, or deformity that requires structural support, you may need a back brace. Back braces offer the external support that your spine is lacking, which can help prevent further complications and back pain, or allow you the time and support you need to heal from spinal surgery.
Types of Back Braces
There are more than 30 types of back and neck braces that can help support your spine, but all of them fall into four categories:
The type of brace prescribed by your neurosurgeon will depend on your condition and the severity of your symptoms.
The materials and construction of your back brace should correspond with your particular spinal needs. For instance, if you suffer from a scoliotic curve caused by scoliosis, you will most likely be prescribed a rigid brace constructed of plastic, metal or strong fabric. Rigid braces often have holes placed strategically for ventilation and closures that allow for limited adjustability. Rigid braces are meant to restrict 50 percent or more of your spine’s motion to allow for healing and structural support.
Flexible braces, on the other hand, are usually constructed of fabric, with varying degrees of adjustability and boning for different levels of support and flexibility. These braces come in several styles, with the most popular being the corset braces for their superior adjustability. Flexible braces are usually prefabricated, meaning they come in predetermined sizes and shapes as opposed to being custom made by an orthotist (a certified brace maker). Flexible braces limit your ability to bend forward, forcing you to lift with your legs, and remain aware of your body posture.
Staying Active and Avoiding Brace Addiction
Your level of activity while using your brace will vary depending on your neurosurgeon’s instructions. Always follow your neurosurgeon’s treatment plans as closely as possible to achieve maximum results and preserve the health of your spine. This is especially important after spinal surgery, so you don’t accidentally reinjure your spine. This being said, your neurosurgeon will most likely help you develop a schedule that will keep you from becoming physically weakened or psychologically addicted to your brace.
Many patients in braces are asked to walk and be active as much as possible, which can help you to prevent muscle atrophy and physical dependence on your brace. Follow you neurosurgeon’s and your physical therapist’s instructions.
Physical weakness caused by atrophy can amplify the psychological addiction that often accompanies lengthy brace wear. It is not uncommon to feel weak and vulnerable out of your brace, even when you no longer need it physically. Talk to your neurosurgeon if you begin to feel anxious when you’re not wearing your brace, and they may refer you to a counselor or other mental health professional to help you transition into life without your brace.
If you suffer from chronic back pain or have questions about your back brace, contact Capital City Neurosurgery and schedule a consultation with an experienced neurosurgeon.