The low back or the lumbar spine is susceptible to many injuries and pain.
Although most people use the general term low back pain (LBP) to describe all of the painful conditions of the back, these pain syndromes are in fact rather complicated because many structures in the lumbar region can cause your LBP.
Spine alignment braces, also known as back braces are a common non-surgical treatment approach for these low back pain issues.
But how does a brace actually help? And why should you ask an Orthotist to prescribe you a back brace for best results?
Keep reading as we explore these questions and the relation of a spine alignment brace to low back pain relief in detail.
What’s a Spine Alignment Brace?
Spine alignment braces are devices used to correct your misaligned back. Commonly known as a back brace, Orthotists use this to help patients with a variety of conditions and pain syndromes.
The back brace comes in several designs and for the different regions of the back; upper back (Cervico-thoracic), mid-back (thoracic) and low back (thoracic-lumbar).
But the working mechanisms of all spine alignment braces are similar. These tend to produce traction between your vertebrae [bones of the spine] to reduce tension on muscles, improve postural awareness and control, and bring your spine back into its anatomical alignment.
The spine alignment braces can be rigid, semi-rigid and flexible which your Orthotist will prescribe according to your condition.
These back braces are made of different materials. The rigid ones have vertical supports made of metal or plastic, with straps to wrap the brace around your body.
The semi-rigid and flexible spine alignment braces are commonly made of synthetic rubber and breathable mesh materials.
General Causes of Low Back Pain
For an otherwise healthy adult who has an acute complaint of low back pain, the causes are mostly lumbar muscle strains or mechanical.
Here’re some general causes of low back pain for which your Orthotist can prescribe a spine alignment brace: 1. Mechanical Low Back Pain
Bad posture while sitting, standing or lifting over time damages the muscles of the back and the vertebrae alignment.
That leads to mechanical low back pain which is aggravated by heaving lifting or long days at work. 2. Stability Issues
Spinal instability arises due to weakened bones, ligaments, muscles, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint conditions.
The muscles surrounding the spine overwork due to instability issues and that leads to a dull and constant low back pain 3. Disk Slippage or Isthmic Spondylolisthesis
Disk slippage happens when one vertebra slips over the other, commonly resulting in a small fracture as well. Patients report a deep ache in the low back in such cases.
The condition usually becomes chronic if left untreated and leads to long-term LBP. 4. Compression of Spine
A decrease in the space between the vertebrae leads to pain in the low back region. That’s also a risk factor for compression fractures that can pinch the nerves and lead to a more severe low back radiating pain. 5. Sudden Low Back Pain Due to Muscle Strain
Sometimes you tweak your back while shovelling snow or playing catch with your kids. That leads to LBP because your muscles overwork, overstretch, tear or go into spasm.
Since the lower back needs these muscles to maintain the upright posture, any damage to them leads to LBP.
How a Spine Alignment Brace Reduces Low Back Pain
Scoliosis is a major cause of LBP for which a spine alignment brace is used. This brace helps reduce the pain in such spinal deformities by forcing the spine back into its position by continuous pressure, increasing or decreasing over time.
Here’re five more ways that a spine alignment brace can reduce low back pain:1. Corrects Posture
A back brace helps maintain the spine in the correct posture and brings the spinal segments back in their original healthy alignment.
It also shifts your weight to the abdomen to unload the spine. That’s helpful to fix the inward curvature of the lumbar spine [medical terminology: Lordosis] and thus treats some of the mechanical causes of LBP. 2. Provides Stability to Structures
The rigid back brace adds stability to the spine by providing external support. That also relieves the muscles of the extra load and tension they endure due to the instability of the bony structures.
Spine alignment braces are almost always used as part of a comprehensive back treatment program. So while your Physical therapist trains the muscles of the back to increase stability, the brace helps add support and reduce pain in the meantime. 3. Limits Unusual Range of Motion
A back brace or spine alignment brace helps reduce low back pain by limiting the extreme range of motion activities and preventing any pinching of nerves by aligning the back perfectly.
Limiting motion gives time to the body to heal itself. The back brace makes sure that there’s no additional damage to the structures while also reducing pain by avoiding the motions that aggravate the LBP. 4. Provides a Favorable Environment for Healing
A back brace takes the pressure off of the strained muscles to give them ample time to heal in a favorable environment.
The spine alignment brace takes over some of the work the postural muscles perform. That reduces the low back pain and speeds up your recovery. 5. Traction
Using a rigid or dynamic spine alignment brace creates a space between the vertebrae.
That helps treat low back pain caused by compression issues. Thus the brace enables you to perform activities of daily living with ease.
It not only reduces pain significantly but also improves the quality of life.
Low back pain can be exhausting. It limits your movements and keeps you from doing the things you love.
If you’re suffering from acute or chronic LBP and need to find a solution, contact us or book an appointment with our Orthotists to get yourself checked out.
Our state-of-the-art orthotic treatment techniques using a spine alignment brace can help you get back to living your life to the fullest!
Amongst all the different types of back braces, the Boston brace is the one usually used for the treatment of kids and teens.
It’s the most widely used thoraco-lumbo-sacral- orthosis or full back brace in the United States. You need a doctors’ or an Orthotists’ prescription to wear one because it has to be specific to your case.
This article will help you understand how the Boston brace works, what the indications for use are and how much it costs. If you’re suffering from a condition for which you need a Boston brace, then this post will help answer many of the questions you might have.
Overview of the Boston Brace
The Boston brace is made of rigid polypropylene material and you wear it by wrapping it around your chest, ribs, back and hips. There’s padding inside the brace for comfort since patients have to wear it for many hours at a time.
The main purpose of the Boston brace is to keep the spinal deformities from getting any worse.
Recently, there’ve been advances in treatment technology and the most prominent one’s the Boston brace 3D. It’s a customized orthosis that provides corrective forces in all three planes and has room for rotational movements.
Although it’s a full-back brace, your Orthotist can prescribe you a region-specific brace such as the Boston Lumbar Brace or Boston Thoracic Brace based on your condition.
Working Mechanism of the Boston Brace
Just like any other spinal brace or spine alignment brace, the Boston brace works by applying steady pressure on the spine to force it back into alignment.
The Boston brace has pads on either side that are the main areas for providing a medially directed force. The location of these pressure points is decided based on the kind of spinal deformity your Orthotist wants to treat and varies from case to case.
The pads are placed in a zigzag shape (push-relief principle). If one of your pads is on the left side of the lower back, then the next pad will be on the right side and slightly above that level.
This brace is prescribed for teens, and the way a Boston brace works is that when the pads apply force to centralize the spine, the developing spine of an adolescent starts to grow towards the midline.
Your Orthotist will regularly reassess your scoliosis and measure the spinal deviations to determine if you need a better fitting Boston brace.
The Boston brace is highly effective in fixing spinal deformities. But it takes four to five years of wearing the brace to have a full recovery.
Indications of the Boston Brace
The primary indication of prescribing a Boston brace is Idiopathic Scoliosis. That’s the condition where the spine is curved sideways early on in life. It’s due to genetic factors and not the result of a bad posture or injury.
The Boston brace is indicated to correct the spinal alignment of the growing spine.
It’s used when your doctors determine that the conservative approaches will not be effective and a brace is necessary to stop the progression of the curve.
The exact size of the brace depends on your Cobb’s angle, which is in most simple terms, the level of lateral spinal deviation from the neutral position.
There’re also some contraindications to using the Boston brace. Obesity and psychological conditions such as claustrophobia are at the top of the list. There can be other factors as well which your Orthotist will tell you about after your physical examination.
Boston Brace Cost
The cost of a Boston brace varies in different areas of the United States, but the average cost is around $2,600 to $3,000. The actual price can be higher depending on which design you use such as Boston brace 3D, Jacket, Night Shift etc.
Since this treatment is a medical necessity, most insurance plans cover the cost of a Boston brace.
Complications of Using the Boston Brace Although one of the best solutions for treating Idiopathic Scoliosis, the Boston brace has several side effects which cannot be ignored.
Since it restricts the spine, there’re limitations to what kind of physical activity you can do and how much forward or backward bending is permitted while wearing the Boston brace.
Here’re some more complications to watch out for when using a Boston brace: 1. It Restricts Your Breathing
Since the Boston brace demands a snug fit around your chest and ribs, you’ll find it hard to take deep breaths. Your Orthotist might refer you to a pulmonary physical therapist for breathing exercises to counter any long-term effects.
But the restricted breathing will remain a complication as long as you’re wearing the Boston brace. It also affects the amount of physical activity you can do. 2. Effects on the Abdomen
Weak muscles, increased abdominal pressure and bowel issues are some of the complications of using the Boston brace.
A good Orthotist will provide you with ample instructions on how to use the brace and effective home exercise programs to reduce these problems. 3. Skin Issues and Perspiration
Hot and humid climates are a major issue for those who wear the Boston brace.
Proper cleaning methods and safety guidelines are helpful. But since you’re required to wear the brace for 15+ hours a day, you’ll still suffer from skin rashes, pimples, and raw skin at some point.
That complication is avoidable by staying cool, using antiperspirant creams, taking care of the skin and most importantly by understanding the warning signs.
The Boston brace is a great device to treat spinal issues in adolescents. The success rate is high and there’s evidence supporting its use for Idiopathic Scoliosis.
If the complications become too much to handle then there’re other options you can consider.
If you’re dealing with a new Boston brace or looking for alternative therapies, then reach out to us online or visit any one of our locations for an expert consultation with our Orthotists.
Our multidisciplinary teams will guide you on how to properly use a Boston brace and help you with all your queries.
Foot injuries and ankle problems are common in all age groups. From congenital conditions and athletic injuries to old age issues, your ankle and feet undergo a lot of trauma.
Arizona brace is one of the most efficient options for food and ankle bracing.
In this article, we’ll cover the nine conditions for which your Orthotist will prescribe you an Arizona brace.
What Is an Arizona Brace?
The Arizona brace is an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) prescribed to increase the stability of your ankle and reduce complications of an injury. It works by fitting inside your shoe and wrapping around your ankle and foot. The Arizona brace supports the region from all four sides and has a few different designs that you can use according to your need.
Wearing an AFO or an Arizona brace takes some getting used to, but once the training is complete patients gain their mobility back and enjoy a stable ankle.
Reasons Why Your Orthotist Will Prescribe You an Arizona Brace
Now that you know what the Arizona Brace is, let’s look at the nine conditions where your Orthotist might prescribe you one:
1. PTTD (Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction)
The Posterior Tibial Tendon is one of the most important tendons of the leg since it connects the calf muscles to the bones of the foot. Problems with this tendon lead to difficulty in walking, holding up the foot’s arch, thus reducing fall risk and, if left untreated, lead to a multitude of other foot-related problems.
An Arizona brace provides external support to the area by stabilizing the ankle of PTTD patients during walking and relieves the tendon of its function, so the tendon can heal.
2. Hindfoot Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
The Hindfoot means the posterior region of your foot or the ankle area. Degenerative changes related to inflammation and arthritis cause pain and affect your gait pattern as well as mobility.
Using an Arizona brace for Hindfoot OA provides symptomatic relief. Since it supports your joint from all sides, the brace reduces unnecessary outward (abduction) or inward (adduction) motion at the ankle joint and improves your walk.
Sinus Tarsi Syndrome is a consequence of Hindfoot arthritis. It’s where tendons impinge in a tunnel between two of the ankle bones. Arizona ankle brace helps prevent that as well.
3. Hindfoot Varus or Valgus
Hindfoot varus is a condition where the heel of your foot moves inward as compared to its midline position (line passing through the talus and the calcaneus bones). And Hindfoot valgus is the opposite with the calcaneus moves outwards or is abducted.
Your Orthotist will prescribe you Arizona foot braces for either of these conditions as a non-surgical treatment. It’ll correct the alignment of your ankle by bringing the bones and the joint towards the midline. And also prevent other conditions such as flatfoot.
4. Postural Stability in Older Population
A major reason for older individuals’ postural problems is the instability of the ankle joint and the loss of proprioceptive feedback from the foot.
An Arizona foot brace helps stabilize the area and reduces the postural sway that older people suffer from. It also contributes towards increased confidence in walking.
Due to a lack of muscle strength, the elderly have reduced postural stability. An Arizona ankle brace provides them with much needed external support. 5. Tibialis Tendonitis
Tibialis tendonitis is a condition where the posterior or anterior tibial tendon is inflamed, mostly after an injury to the area. That results in pain and an unstable gait because this muscle is responsible for holding up the arch of the foot.
When the tibial tendon is inflamed, the arch falls and produces flatfoot.
The condition takes about 8 weeks to heal properly and an Arizona ankle brace is used during that time. It takes the load off the tendon and provides additional stability. 6. Severe Pronation or Flat Foot
Pronation of the foot (inward turning) or flat feet can be a congenital condition or adult-acquired due to damage of the surrounding structures.
Although this condition doesn’t always require treatment, the Arizona foot brace is sometimes prescribed in extreme situations where the flatfoot is leading to knee problems, pain or damaging other structures. 7. Reducing Risk of Fall in Elderly
Incorrectly fitting shoes cause foot problems in people of all ages. But the older population faces more difficulty in balancing themselves while standing or walking with foot deformities. That leads to an increased risk of falls.
That’s just one of the reasons for falls in older people.
The Arizona brace for the ankle reduces foot deformities such as Hindfoot varus, flatfoot or degenerative changes and increases balance thus reduces the risk of fall. That’s a major reason why your Orthotist will prescribe you an Arizona brace. 8. Charcot Foot
People suffering from peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves of the lower limb) develop Charcot foot. It’s a condition where foot bones may break and joints may dislocate due to weakness of the entire ankle region.
There’s a risk of the entire foot being deformed due to Charcot foot. Your Orthotist will prescribe you an Arizona foot brace for this condition to avoid permanent damage to any of the foot or ankle structures. 9. Ankle, Subtalar or Midtarsal Trauma
Subtalar is a joint in the foot at the level of the ankle. And Midtarsal is the joint between the rearfoot and the midfoot. Trauma to these regions can mean dislocations, injury, fractures or any other damage.
Ankle trauma results in instability and weakness of the surrounding muscles and ligaments. The Arizona brace for the ankle helps stabilize the region.
Foot or ankle problems require prompt treatment to prevent the issues from getting worse. Our mobility is one of our key strengths and it’s difficult to function without a healthy foot.
If you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, then book a free consultation with our Orthotists to learn more about AFOs specifically the Arizona brace and get one fitted for yourself.
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