A herniated disc back brace is still a popular non-surgical solution used by many patients with a problematic disc condition, despite the lack of logic in its application. Back braces have enjoyed tremendous success within the back pain industry, which is rather ironic, considering they demonstrate extremely limited usefulness for most conditions and are of practically no use at all for disc pain patients.
It is crucial to remember that disc pathologies are deemed to cause pain through foraminal stenosis, chemical radiculitis or central spinal stenosis. All of these processes occur within the confines of the spinal canal and will never be affected by wearing any type of back brace.
This article will explore why so many patients rely on back brace orthotics for diagnosed disc abnormalities. We will also investigate any benefits which spinal orthotics may provide for disc pain sufferers.
Patients suffering with symptoms from a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease often complain of needing muscular support. A back brace is a medical device which compresses and reinforces the back muscles, providing a security blanket to patients who believe in their efficacy.
Designers of these products will often make a variety of claims about how these devices help back pain sufferers, but most of these claims are very difficult to back up with concrete facts. In far more cases, these claims have only been documented in biased nonscientific studies commissioned by the product manufacturer themselves. Doctors who sell these products love them, since they are cheap to buy and can be resold for tremendous profits to naive patients.
The following are some important real facts about using a back brace to treat herniated disc pain:
Flexible braces will not provide skeletal support or do anything to help disc related pain. They merely feel like they are doing something, since they are snug-fitting.
Most patients who swear by a back brace are experiencing a psychological placebo effect from the device, since no actual efficacy is typically granted.
Extended use of any back brace will deteriorate the musculature of the area in which it is used. This can actually worsen pain or create new pain.
Back braces are useful for recovering from certain types of muscle injuries or during rehabilitation after spinal surgery.
Back braces are not a good solution for common back pain, including herniated or degenerated disc pain. This has been documented in many real medical studies which were not commissioned by product manufacturers.
I was prescribed numerous back braces during the 18 years when I sought active treatment for my debilitating chronic back pain. Some were fairly common elastic types, while others were orthotic-grade rigid structures. These devices were all ridiculous and never helped anything, although at times I believed they might be of assistance. None of these devices made any sense for the condition they were trying to treat.
How can a brace prevent pain from a degenerated disc? How can a support brace stop pain from a herniation which is supposed to be compressing a spinal nerve root? They can’t and they won’t.
It is no surprise that many caregivers who recommend braces either sell them directly or have a nice affiliate arrangement with an orthotic maker. That's right doctor; ring that cash register. Who cares about ethics or logic?
Using a back brace to treat disc pain is like putting a bandage on a broken bone. It is completely useless and silly, but commonly used by both patients and some care practitioners nonetheless. This is yet another example of the complete incompetence and/or greed demonstrated by some providers within the back, neck and sciatica pain industry.