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Improving Function and Pain Symptoms in the Lumbar Spine with Bracing

Lumbar spine pathology can affect a diverse patient population; from the young athlete, to the working adult, to the elderly patient suffering from degeneration. An initial course of non-operative treatment could include use of analgesics and NSAIDs to control pain, epidural injections, and physical methods such as bracing and flexion strengthening exercises1. To be effective, non-surgical treatment options should improve patient function – either by reducing limiting symptoms like pain or assisting in mobility –allowing an active return to work, sport, or daily living. In the case of lumbar spine pathology, bracing may be a key tool for improving function and reducing pain for athletes and all patients.

NASS Guidelines - Improved Function and Pain Symptoms

Referencing multiple studies, North American Spine Society (NASS) Clinical Guidelines suggest that the use of a lumbosacral corset has been shown to improve function (a significant increase in walking distance or time) and decrease pain in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS)2. In athletes, bracing has been suggested to help control pain for those with lumbar conditions including Scheuermann’s disease, scoliosis and spondylolisthesis, especially if the athlete’s symptoms have not improved with rest and activity modification3.

Furthermore, studies evaluating the influence of bracing, exercises and education found that brace treatments (done in combination with exercises) were not shown to reduce patient range-of-motion or lessen trunk strength4. In fact, surgical approaches are likely associated with higher risks, reported by a 2016 Cochrane Review that reiterated the high rates of side effects and complications associated with LSS surgery5.

Anatomical posterior panels unique to Össur’s design encourage patient comfort and compliance and reduce pressure on the spinous process.

Setting the (Bracing) Bar Higher

One of the newest lumbar-sacral orthoses on the market, launched by Össur on September 5th, 2017, has been supported by pressure mapping data6. The data demonstrated that the unique, anatomically-contoured panels of the Miami LSO™ reduce pressure on the spinous process while applying even compression on the para-spinal musculature to encourage patient comfort and compliance.

Aside from innovating clinically-indicated products, Össur’s strength is in providing business and reimbursement solutions to help practitioners develop profitable businesses. Signing up for their free Reimbursement Blog provides access to webinars, billing support, and a guide to billing for spinal orthosis under Medicare.

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1. Kalichman L & Hunter, DJ. Diagnosis and conservative management of degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.  European Spine Journal. 2008;17(3): 327–333

2. North American Spine Society. Evidence-based Clinical Guidelines for Multidisciplinary Spine care: Diagnosis and Treatment of Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. 2011: 51-54. Retrieved from

3. Baker, RJ & Patel, D. Lower Back Pain in the Athlete: Common Conditions and Treatment. Prim Care Clinical Office Practice. 2005;32: 201–229

4. Spratt KF, Weinstein JN, Lehmann TR, Woody J, Sayre H. Efficacy of flexion and extension treatments incorporating braces for low-back pain patients with retrodisplacement, spondylolisthesis, or normal sagittal translation. Spine. 1993;18:1839–1849

5. Zaina F, Tomkins-Lane C, Carragee E, Negrini S. Surgical versus non-surgical treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016;1 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010264.pub2.

6. Data on file at Össur