How Do Upper Back Braces Help for Back Pain?

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Living with upper back pain can make things difficult for you. From doing simple activities such as sitting or walking to accomplishing your tasks, almost every action that requires movement and concentration can be affected when you have chronic back pain. Fortunately, there are nonsurgical interventions that can help with your discomfort such as upper back braces. 

So how can back braces provide relief from chronic pain in your upper back? Back braces are medical devices designed to provide support to your thoracic and lumbar spine. It helps you maintain proper posture to limit the strain on your muscles, ligaments, and spinal structures that may cause chronic back pain. It can also relieve the symptoms of some spinal disorders such as osteoarthritis, scoliosis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and sciatica. 

What to Know About Upper Back Braces for Back Pain  

Back pain is one of the top complaints of adults in the United States. It amounts to at least 39% of all the reported pain problems that individuals experience at any point in their life. Most people experience low back pain which originates from their lumbar spine. Studies show that chronic low back pain is the leading cause of disability and decreased quality of life for most adults. However, upper back pain shouldn’t also be overlooked. 

About 15.6% to 19.5% of back pain sufferers mention that they feel discomfort in the upper region of their spine. Although pain relievers and rest can provide temporary relief, the discomfort in your thoracic spine won’t go away easily and can greatly limit your flexibility and movement.

If you’re in need of immediate pain relief and spine support, you should consider getting an upper back brace. Back braces are special wearable medical devices that can help improve bad posture while alleviating the stress and pressure on your upper back structures to maintain a functioning and healthy spine. 

Conditions That Can Benefit From Back Braces

Wearing back braces is usually part of a comprehensive treatment plan to improve your upper or lower back pain disorder. Before you get a prescription for an upper back brace, you’ll still need to be assessed by a doctor to determine the cause of your pain. The type of back brace that you’ll use will depend on the spinal issue that will be corrected.

Here’s an overview of some of the spinal disorders that cause upper back pain and how back braces can help: 

1) Spinal Osteoarthritis

This is the most common form of spinal arthritis that occurs due to the natural wear and tear of the cartilage between the joints. Once the cartilage fully wears away, bones will rub against each other which can cause upper back pain and inflammation.

Patients with osteoarthritis can greatly benefit from wearing rigid braces. This type of back brace can provide stability to the spinal structures and remove the pressure on the affected joints. Wearing rigid back braces can help you move, sit, or stand without a problem.  

2) Spondylolysis

This condition occurs when a crack or fracture forms between the bones in your spine. It usually happens after acute injuries or due to natural degeneration of the vertebrae. It rarely causes any noticeable symptoms but some patients do experience pain that spreads from the lower to the upper back. 

Back braces can help spondylolysis symptoms by relaxing your strained muscles and spine structures. It can also control your movements to allow the injuries or fractures to heal while easing the pain and discomfort that you feel. 

3) Scoliosis 

Individuals who have scoliosis have an unusual sideways curvature of the spine. It can be a disorder that occurs from birth or sometimes it can be caused by neuromuscular conditions and injuries or infections to the spinal cord.

Back braces can be a good support for mild to moderate scoliosis disorders. It can help improve spinal curvature, correct rounded shoulders, relieve muscle tension, and prevent its progression to a severe condition. You can also use a posture corrector to maintain proper spine position and train your body to avoid further curving. 

4) Spinal Disc Disorders  

One of the most common disc problems comes from the degeneration of the spinal discs. Herniated or bulging discs is another condition that occurs when the inner portion slips out of its protective cover and presses on a nerve. 

When a herniated or slipped disc happens on the thoracic spine, it can inevitably cause upper back pain. Fortunately, back braces can help stabilize the spine and minimize motions that can further cause pain and damage to the spinal discs. 

5) Pinched Nerves 

This condition occurs when muscles, surrounding tissues, and bones put too much pressure on a certain nerve. In some cases, your upper back pain may be due to a pinched nerve in the thoracic spine and it may be accompanied by muscle weakness and numbness. 

Putting on an upper back or posture brace can relieve the pressure on your irritated nerves and reduce the pain in the affected joints and muscles. They can also help correct your spinal alignment to minimize the risks of nerve compression and prevent the recurrence of pinched nerves. 

6) Spinal Stenosis

This spinal disorder occurs when there’s a limited or narrow space in the spinal canal which causes nerve compression and pain throughout the lumbar and thoracic spine. Wearing a back brace or posture corrector can help eliminate the pressure on the affected spine. It can also help relieve some of the muscle tension, weakness, and numbness to improve your mobility.

Other Advantages of Using a Back Brace for Upper Back Pain 

Upper back braces offer many other benefits when you use them as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Aside from addressing the symptoms and providing pain relief from spinal disorders, here are some of the other uses of back braces: 

  • Helps Correct Posture: When you make it a habit to wear upper back braces, you’ll notice an improvement in your overall posture. It will help minimize slouching which greatly puts pressure on your neck and upper back. Maintaining proper posture will promote better spine health to reduce your risk for injuries and spinal disorders. 
  • Provides Support for Your Spine and Muscles: Back braces can also help strengthen your upper back muscles which can manage and prevent chronic pain. It can also reduce pressure on your spinal nerves and other structures to protect yourself from movements that may damage or strain your upper back. 
  • Facilitates Post-Operative Healing: Doctors can also recommend wearing upper back braces after you’ve had spinal surgery. This will greatly help support your spinal structures and provide stability to ensure a smooth recovery. You can also use them as an addition to your physical therapy program. 

How to Know If You Should Use An Upper Back Pain Brace  

Having chronic back pain is almost always a good sign that it’s time to wear a back brace. But just to be sure, you should still seek medical advice to determine if your specific symptoms can be managed with a back brace and how you can effectively use them. Here are some of the ways to tell if you should get a back brace:

  • You’re struggling with posture issues
  • You have moderate to severe upper back pain that is already disrupting your work and activities
  • You have a spinal disorder that makes it hard to move your upper back 
  • You’re recovering from a spinal surgery 
  • You’re experiencing muscle weakness, contractions, or spasms in the upper back 

How Long Should You Wear Back Braces for Upper Back Pain Support?  

Upper back braces should only be worn as prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist. If you’re wearing a support belt or braces for back pain after an injury or muscle strain, the common practice is to use them only for a few days or weeks until the discomfort subsides.

When using upper back braces for pain relief on a daily basis, they can be worn for at least 15 to 25 minutes each day. If the goal of back braces is to minimize pain from conditions such as scoliosis, they may be worn for about 4 to 6 hours a day. You should avoid wearing braces for too long since you may become reliant on them and they may worsen your pain and condition.  

How to Wear a Back Brace for Upper Back Pain 

Wearing an upper back brace for the first time can take some adjustments. But once you get used to it, you’ll have better days with improved upper back comfort and increased quality of life. Here’s an overview of how to wear an upper back brace: 

  • Before you put on the posture corrector, you should clean the skin to keep it free from dirt and possible irritation. It’s also best if you can wear a shirt underneath the back brace to ensure your comfort and prevent skin irritation. 
  • Loosen the shoulder straps of the back brace and make necessary adjustments to make sure it fits snugly on your torso. 
  • Stand up straight with the right posture before wrapping the back brace around you. 
  • If you’re having a hard time, you can ask a family member or friend to help place and adjust the back brace. Tighten the straps to secure it around your body. 
  • You should only wear the back braces as advised by your doctor to avoid unnecessary tension or pressure on your spine.  

Factors to Consider in Choosing Best Back Brace for Upper Back Pain

There are different types of back braces that can be used for managing upper back pain, such as Upright GO 2 Posture Corrector or Truweo Posture Corrector. While you can opt for well-known brands, it’s best to seek recommendations from your doctor to know which one fits your condition. Here are some of the factors to consider in choosing an upper back brace: 

  • Size and Fit: Your upper back or shoulder brace should comfortably accommodate your body size. Get a brace with adjustable sizing, straps, and hooks to make sure that it fits snugly on your upper back and shoulder blade. 
  • Materials and Level of Support: Depending on your condition, you can use flexible braces made of soft and elastic materials to allow some movement or rigid braces made of canvas or cotton that have additional padding for better support. 
  • Durability: Since you’re likely to wear upper back braces on a regular basis, you should use ones that are highly durable and easy to maintain. You may also choose braces that you can easily clean or wash after regular use. 

Get Long-Lasting Relief From Upper Back Pain at Gramercy Pain Center

Upper back braces can do more than just improve thoracic pain and relieve symptoms of spinal disorders. They can also provide better posture, stabilize your spine, and support your movement to minimize the risks of injuries. If you find yourself in need of an upper back or shoulder brace, you should consult with your healthcare provider. 

Gramercy Pain Center is a reliable pain management clinic that provides nonsurgical interventions and therapies for upper back pain. We have a team of physicians and caring staff who can help you achieve long-lasting relief and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to book a consultation.

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