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Are Back Braces Effective?

PTD1214_BackLower back pain is a common concern among adults, especially those whose jobs involve heavy lifting. You might see workers at your local home improvement store wearing lumbar support bands—“back support” braces. These devices are becoming increasingly popular for the rest of us, as well. But do they really work?
A brace is especially helpful after a spinal injury or in cases of disk degeneration, and sometimes an orthopedic surgeon will prescribe use of a special brace after surgery. But these types of lumbar support are not the same as those typically available at your local pharmacy or sporting goods store. The store-bought braces, usually made of neoprene with Velcro straps or buckles, are designed to act as an external  version of the abdominal muscles, providing added support to the spine.
These braces can be useful in that they “remind” the wearer to engage the core muscles that the brace is harnessing. But those same muscles can become lazy because their job is being done for them. That is why long-term use of back braces is not advisable, even if they do provide some relief and support in the short term.
Rather than relying on a brace, why not let us help you strengthen your internal “brace”—the muscles that support the intricate workings of the spine? If you have already become dependent on a brace, we can help wean you off the device by working the weakened muscles and having you wear the brace for increasingly shorter amounts of time until you no longer need it.
Through an effective physical therapy program focusing on lumbar stability, you will be trained to find and maintain your “neutral spine” position. The back muscles can then be exercised to teach the spine to stay in this position. This program of lumbar stabilization will
• help relieve the nuisance of lower back pain
• help you gain control over the movements of your spine and the forces that act on it
• help heal soft tissue injury such as muscle strain and torn ligaments
• help you avoid future injury from repetitive movement or sudden motion or stress
If you have been wearing a back brace for a long time, make an appointment with us. We will prescribe a series of exercises that will make your back strong and brace-free.
Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Wyckoff, NJ provides orthopedic and sports physical therapy services for the greater Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and Bergen County region. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before engaging in a physical therapy or rehabilitative program.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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