New Study Examines the Usefulness of Lumbar Support Devices for Lower Back Pain Treatment

The majority of Americans will suffer from some type of lower back pain at least once in their life – often more than once. There are a variety of causes for lower back pain, including pulled muscles caused by overexertion, sciatica, or an injury from some type of accident.

Whatever the cause, people who suffer from back pain know that even something as simple as getting up from a chair can cause debilitating pain. One of the treatments that a doctor may recommend for lower back pain is the use of a lumbar support device. A study recently examined whether or not these devices make a difference.

The study was conducted by doctors from CHU Gabriel-Montpied Hôpital, in Clermont-Ferrand, France and published in the journal Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (2016;59S:e29).

The team of doctors analyzed 28 different studies which had been conducted (only studies written in English or French were used) that had evaluated how effective placing a lumbar support device on the lower back was in managing pain.

The study team collected their data utilizing several research databases, using the keywords back support, lower back pain, lumbar belt, lumbar brace, lumbar orthosis, and lumbar support. In order to be included in the analysis, each of the studies must have included rigid lumbar devices among those evaluated.

The conclusion of the research team was that there is no “official recommendation” for the use of lumbar support devices for most people who suffer from lower back pain.

The final report noted that these devices can be “effective on function, pain and relative time intervals for dispensing medication with subacute low back pain.” They pointed out that each individual case should be examined to determine what benefits a device may offer a patient.

There are several types of lumbar support devices available. Generic devices, which can be purchased at many department stores, fit around a patient’s waist and are secured by Velcro straps.

These devices typically have a plastic or metal plate inserted in the area which presses against the lower back. Prescription lumbar devices are custom-made to fit along the patient’s own spine curvature.

Although there can be alleviation from pain by wearing a lumbar support device, many people find them to be uncomfortable and many physicians find that other pain relief options – such as learning about the mechanics of the body and exercise – provide much more help than a corset or other device can. Patients who may find the most relief from a device – and therefore more apt to use it – are those who show symptoms of instability of the spine, which is contributing to the lower back pain.

Spine surgeon Dr. Victor Hayes commented, “It is really important for people who are dealing with back pain to seek the advice of a physician in order to find the best treatment plans for their individual situation.”

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