Can Back Braces Cause Muscle Weakness?
Wearing lumbosacral orthosis (LSO), or lumbar decompression support braces, is one of the most common treatment methods prescribed for treating low back pain. Multiple randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of these braces in reducing back pain and decreasing disability. But can wearing a back brace lead to muscle weakness and atrophy?
A systematic review published in Spine in 2017, (one of the most premier spine research journals) looked at 35 different studies and concluded there was no conclusive scientific evidence to suggest that orthosis results in trunk muscle weakness. 
A 2019 study published in Clinical Biomechanics investigated if wearing LSO for prolonged periods may impair motor function. This study concluded that “long-term use of LSO had no significant adverse effects on motor function or clinical factors in patients with chronic low back pain. Increasing lumbosacral orthosis tightness may improve motor function and the clinical efficacy of the orthosis.”
LSO back braces are an effective treatment option for treating low back pain. They have been found effective in both reducing back pain and decreasing disability. The scientific evidence does not show that long-term use of decompression LSO back braces leads to decreased muscle activity or muscle atrophy.
At Square One we frequently prescribe LSO braces for patients with back pain, when clinically indicated. We typically recommend patients wear these braces 1-2 hours a day for pain reduction. Once symptoms have reduced, we recommend patients wear the brace to help prevent back pain if they are going to do a strenuous activity that they feel could cause a flare-up of back pain. We always prescribe back braces in conjunction rehab programs to increase mobility and stability. Back braces can be an excellent adjective tool to help patients recover from back pain, however they are always part of the treatment, never the sole treatment.
If you are dealing with chronic back pain, contact our office for a FREE consultation to see what the most appropriate treatment options are for you. Call 970-207-4463 or click Back Pain Fort Collins to request a free consultation.
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1. Azadinia, F., et al., Can lumbosacral orthoses cause trunk muscle weakness? A systematic review of literature. Spine J, 2017. 17(4): p. 589-602.
2. Samani, M., et al., A randomized controlled trial comparing the long-term use of soft lumbosacral orthoses at two different pressures in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon), 2019. 69: p. 87-95.