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Did you wear your back brace?

inchwormiinchworm Posts: 719
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Recovering from Surgery
After my 2-level PLIF, I came home in a rigid thoraco-lumbar brace. Am supposed to be wearing it whenever I'm up and around much, and particularly when I'm out in the car, etc. Trouble is, the brace has caused me increased pain from the get-go, and then about 3 days ago when I put it on, I immediately felt nerve pain in my shinbone which never went away and just got worse and spread to my entire leg, with numbness and pain from my waist clear down to my toes. I tried the brace the next day and it aggravated that pain again immediately so I took it off. That night I went to bed in tears because I hurt so bad and nothing seemed to help. That's when I created that post called "Headed to the ER". I've talked to my surgeon's PA and he knows I'm not wearing it like they originally intended. He's had me go in 3 times to have the brace adjusted to see if it will help. It is to prevent me from twisting and to give support to my spine during the fusion process.

My question is how many of you have had a brace similar to this and how did it work for you? Were you able to tolerate it? I'm now on Lyrica and Dilaudid for pain control and just got the okay to increase the Lyrica (it does help). I just worry that I've done something to my back by refusing to wear the brace and thought I'd see how many of you have had some kind of experience with a brace.

Hoping each of you is having as pain-free a day as possible!

2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled


  • I didn't wear a brace. But my Dad needs to wear a brace and like you it made him worse where it aggravated his back,nerves causing worse pain than before. My dad actually had 2 braces. He, too, had adjustments,re-dos on the brace but it didn't work either. He was doing well until that point then continued to have too much pain from the brace or then he thought he hurt himself because he didn't wear the brace. Anyway, he has a brace he wore before surgery, soft cloth/washable kind that he is now wearing when he is in the car,etc. and it seems to be ok. He told his dr so he knows that. In the meantime, his pain didn't get better and elevated like yours. They found out his pain was from a very aggravated muscle that had been moved,etc. nearest the fusion site which also was near nerves so they gave him a cortisone shot in that muscle and a prednisone pack which did help some. But they told him because they had to really shift that area around and did a lot of work that the nerves, etc. might take months to settle down. He is 5 months out right now.

    Like I mentioned, I didn't wear a brace but my nerves were a mess forever after surgery. I had problems before surgery and have permanent damage so mine is always a bit of a problem. But I can tell you that much of the pain settled down, I didn't think it would settle down as much as it has, but it took a very,very long time. I'd day between 12-18 months and at my 2 year mark I'm thankful to be this good now! I hope it helps you feel better to hear and compare our back fusions with yours.

    Keep doing what your dr tells you to as he knows you best. Hopefully, in time your nerves will settle down and you will feel a great deal of difference too. Don't give up. When they tell you it takes 1-2 years to heal completely, they really mean it, it takes much more time and patience than most surgery.
  • Hi Linda, I forgot to tell you that you are just a few weeks out so don't expect too much. Take care!


    My dad's fusion is L5/S1
    Mine is L2/3/4
  • Very interesting comparison with your dad's experience, I'll have to say. Sounds so much like what's happened to me. The fact that Lyrica is helping the pain is a good thing--probably because they don't have to worry about something having slipped out of place, etc.

    I'm not wearing the brace at all now because I feel strongly that it is wrong for me. Have never disobeyed a doctor's order before but his PA does know I'm not wearing it much, just not sure he's aware that I'm not wearing it at all, although he probably suspects it. The most important time to wear it is in the car and I've made one trip (yesterday) without it and did fine, but I may put it on for my trip to town today, just to be on the safe side. If it escalates my pain the way it's done in the past, I guess I'll just ask for more pain med--not sure what else to do.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing yours and your dad's experiences. I'm a patient person and don't expect miracles overnight, but am hoping that when a year rolls around I'll be free of nerve pain at least. May still have backache but I knew that before agreeing to this surgery.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    July 27th I had a very successful double TLIF and associated repairs. I've been wearing a back brace ever since... about 11 weeks now. I like it because it gives me very good support. It's a DeRoyal Ultralign


    I also wear a Spinal-Stim by Orthofix 4 hours a day to promote fusion.


    I wear it over my brace.

    For me, it's all pretty comfortable... as it can be for the situation... it's not bad looking either... I've been wearing it since I got out of the hospital bed and will wear it until recommended otherwise and will probably keep it handy and wear it whenever I feel I need the added support. I get around very well and often wear both of the previously mentioned items, at the same time, wherever I go.

    Maybe for you, switching to a different brand or type of brace might help.

    I sincerely hope things improve for you.
  • Thanks for sharing your experience. Actually, I talked to my surgeon's PA (who is following me post-op) this morning and when I told him that EVERY time I've worn the brace, later in the day I have severe pain, he said that we may leave this custom-made brace behind and go to something different. I said, YES--give me a soft lumbar brace and I'll wear it all the time! My present brace is full torso, rigid plastic clam shell which makes it hard to breath when it is cinched up properly, and pushes up uncomfortably when I sit down, not to mention putting pressure on my low back, right over my sciatic nerve. Haven't heard back from him yet about what other brace I might be given, but he also ordered a CT of my lumbar spine this morning as well as blood work. So, am waiting to hear the results of these. Am really really hoping I haven't done too much (it's a tendency I have) and made a screw loosen or move. Am trying not to worry until I know there's a need.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your great experience. I hope you continue to improve and have a wonderful outcome from your surgery! :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I had an L4/L5 microdiscectomy for a severely herniated disk at the end of July. The day after my surgery the resident doctor came to my room and gave me a brace saying I just need to wear it when I am up and about for the first couple of weeks. Well, it is now the middle of October and I am still in this thing. I originally wore it all the time for fear of messing up my surgery. Now, I want out of it but the PA refuses to let me. At every appt. she says maybe next month or that she just wants to be sure. I have had the same problem as you with the brace causing pain or irritating the nerve. My brace is a full length back/ half front Ultralign. So I went on to the company's website and found a PDF instruction on how to put on and wear the brace. My pain from the brace is gone. I was just wearing it wrong. The hospital never gave me instruction on proper wear of the brace.
  • I had a two-level lumbar TLIF on 10/1, and ever since I've been out of the hospital, I have been wearing my brace. I only take it off when I'm showering or sleeping. I have taken a few car rides and did complete a short drive over the weekend, and it does bug me a little bit while driving. I wear the corset-type brace and it tends to want to scoot up on me while driving and sitting. Other than that, it does make me feel more secure, as everything is being tightly held together. But it does feel good to take it off at the end of the day.

  • Thanks for your replies. :)

    Wow, Brian, you were never given proper instruction and was wearing the brace incorrectly? That's got to be frustrating. They should have instructed you and it would have alleviated all the pain you went through. I've been given plenty of instruction on how to wear my brace and it has been adjusted three times to try and make it more comfortable. It is considerably more comfortable now but it still pushes on the exact spot on my backside where the sciatic nerve lives. Don't know if the sciatic nerve is directly connected to the L5 nerve root where my pain is originating, but I do know that the pressure on my backside is the culprit in daily sciatic pain which radiates down my leg--the worst pain being in my shinbone. You say the PA who sees you won't let you out of the brace. Have you asked for a specific reason for her decisions? I would want to know because it seems logical that wearing it for 3 months might be enough. I've been told that the length of time for me in the brace will depend on when they see signs of fusion on xray. I have my next visit with my surgeon in 4 weeks and that will be my next xray so I'm really hoping he will see signs of fusion then!

    Kevn--I'm glad you are having a positive experience with your brace. Everybody shouldn't have to suffer with them. :)


    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • trevor022ttrevor022 Posts: 1
    edited 06/27/2013 - 7:58 PM
    I used to have a back brace very similar to the one you are describing. Has it held up for you so far? The biggest problem with mine is after a couple days of constant use it began to "wear" out. I ended up buying two or three of them before I decided to go with a Cybertech Medical back brace. They are pretty sweet they use a pulley system for loosening and tightening them. Makes it easy for me to bend over if I need to pick something up off of the floor without having to unhook the thing. *** EDITED TO REMOVE LINK- please do not post links in our forums.

    I really hope it helps you out!
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  • Just got my brace yesterday following surgery in mid April. Had the same issue with it. The surgical supply orthotist who fitted me for it says it isn't going to work for me and to return it. Called the doc this morning for advice.

    ACDF 3 Level 5/28/2014
    PLIF L4/L5/S1 4/2013
  • Following my surgery in 2000 I was also told by my doctor to wear a clamshell (TLSO) brace all throughout my waking hours. Immediately after starting to wear the brace I noticed pain all throughout my leg. After wearing the brace for a couple moths it caused me severe nerve damage. It also has caused a bulge similar to a hernia in the area below my kidney. As a result of this brace it has made walking and bending extremely uncomfortable and causes a pain throughout my leg whenever I bend over. It has also severely effected my sex drive. I was wondering how many other people have had similar experiences/pain caused by these braces and if anyone knows of any lawsuits brought about regarding these products.
  • dbarbeau48ddbarbeau48 Posts: 318
    edited 07/03/2013 - 4:25 AM

    I wore my clamshell brace from March 2006 until August of 2007, anytime I was up. I even worked most of that time as a high school principal hiding the brace under sweaters. It was a horrible experience and I poured lighter fluid on it and burned it when I finally got the okay to not wear it. I can't say it caused any of the problems you have with me but it did cause me lasting problems which I'll probably never recover from. It destroyed my core and back muscles and shortened my hip flexor muscles to the point where they pull me over. I cannot stand straight and after 100's of PT sessions to strengthen those muscles and loosen my flexors, I remain stooped over. The TLSO brace did its job, it protected my spine until fusion took place but at a great cost to me.


    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
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