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Durable Medical Equipment for Back Pain

• Jessica Hegg

Durable Medical Equipment for Back Pain

Acute to chronic back pain poses a significant challenge for many adults, both young and old. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons people give for seeing a doctor. In addition to nonpharmacological remedies like exercise, yoga, acupuncture, and massage, noninvasive treatment plans you may discuss with your doctor or chiropractor if you suffer from back pain might include back bracing.

What Types of Back Braces Are There?

There are two basic types of back braces that vary in their shape, size and makeup. A rigid brace offers an inflexible structure, often times made of plastic, that is well secured around the torso, typically with straps. It is heavier and immobilizes the back in part, limiting almost 50% of the motion of the spine, and is usually ordered for a patient following a serious injury, like a spinal fracture or fusion surgery.

The other type of brace is what you might find over the counter in a pharmacy or via doctor’s order - a corset (elastic) back brace or performance belt which applies compression to inflamed and sore back muscles, stabilizes and helps align the spine, but is far less sturdy and doesn’t limit movement as much as a rigid brace.

Can Back Braces Help Prevent Back Injury?

Hyped up for their abilities to prevent injury, alleviate back pain, and promote good posture, back braces have been sold for decades in stores, doctors offices, and online, in particular to men and women who work physical labor jobs - like airport baggage handlers and warehouse workers. The best back brace for work is worn prophylactically to prevent someone who is doing heavy lifting, for example, from straining or tearing back muscles. By limiting forward bending motions, corset braces encourage better posture, spinal alignment, and healthier lifting techniques.

While the scientific research correlating lumbar spine bracing and injury prevention is somewhat wishy-washy, thousands of people still tout the positive effects it has on their daily and working lives. Many studies, like the National Institute for Safety and Health 1996 report that said back bracing could not be linked to injury prevention, are outdated and have not been reassessed in decades. Pain doctors will recommend back braces for people with previous back injuries or chronic pain, however, in the physical labor environment, experts agree the best injury prevention measures should include implementing education programs for workers that teach proper lifting techniques in addition to redesigning the work environment make lifting less hazardous.

When Should I Ask My Doctor About a Back Brace?

Naturally following a serious back injury or surgery, a brace may be prescribed by your doctor as part of your customized treatment plan. For chronic pain or injury prevention, however, you should talk to your healthcare provider or pain management doctor about lumbar spine bracing if:

  • ●You lift 50+ pounds regularly throughout the day at your house (according to OSHA)
  • ●You have trouble standing or sitting pain-free for extended amounts of time
  • ●You are undergoing back pain treatment already including using a TENS Unit

Because back braces can qualify as durable medical equipment depending on the type your need and medical reason requiring one, your insurance company may cover some or all of the cost of one. If you are experiencing back pain and are looking for noninvasive treatment options to not just alleviate pain but help you get back to normal life, consider talking to your doctor about back bracing.

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Jessica Hegg,

Content Manager, ViveHealth.com

Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle. Through her writing she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.