Types & styles of back braces

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Types & styles of back braces
Back braces provide support and stability for the spine. (human anatomy showing the skeleton from the back image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com)

Providing support, stability and structure for the back, back braces are used to treat a variety of spinal conditions and injuries. Based on your specific injury or condition, your doctor will prescribe a specific style of back brace. From braces made of rigid plastic and metal rods to braces made of stretchy elastic, an extensive array of back braces have been developed.

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Rigid Brace

Typically made of hard plastic, a rigid brace fits tight against the body, wrapping entirely around the front and back. The upper edge of the rigid back brace is generally placed just under the breasts, while the lower edge falls just past the hips. Fabric straps wrap around the brace, securing it to the body. According to Spine-Health.com, a properly fitting rigid brace can limit nearly 50 per cent of the spine’s movement. This type of back brace is commonly used to help broken/fractured bones heal, after spinal fusion surgery and to support the spine in cases of lower back pain and instability.

Corset Brace

A corset back brace looks somewhat similar to a woman’s clothing corset. They feature shoulder straps and long ties that lace up on the front, back or side. Although they provide a bit more flexibility than rigid braces, metal pieces run along the back of the corset, providing rigidity and support. A short corset brace might be used for lower back problems, while a long back brace is commonly used for problems in the middle back.

Lumbosacral Belt

Similar to a corset brace, the lumbosacral belt also laces up along one side of the brace. However, rather than wrapping around the torso, they sit lower on the body. Covering the stomach, hips and lower back, this type of back brace helps provide stability and support to the lower back, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Hyperextension Brace

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the hyperextension back brace is commonly used to treat “frontal compression fractures that have occurred around the junction of the thoracic and lumbar spine.” This back brace has a rigid rectangular frame that sits against the front of the body, applying pressure to the upper sternum and pubic bone. A rigid piece also wraps around the lower back, applying pressure to the tenth vertebra in the thoracic spine (T-10). This three-point pressure encourages the extension of the spine, contributing to proper recovery.

Elastic Brace

<p>Cure-Back-Pain.org explains that an elastic support brace is not an orthotic brace used to treat medical conditions. Instead, they simply provide support and stability. The elastic back brace will limit movement of the back, which is beneficial during recovery from a back injury or back surgery. They can also be used to limit movement and encourage proper posture during manual labour.

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