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Rigid Braces: A Type of Spinal Brace

Chairback Brace, Raney Flexion Jacket, and Williams Brace

Peer Reviewed

Rigid braces may be used to treat low back pain. They are also commonly prescribed to stabilize your lumbar spine after surgery. There are many types of spinal braces (which your doctor may call orthotics or orthoses), and this article will describe rigid braces. If you'd like to read a more general article about all the types of spinal braces, please read our spinal bracing overview.

There are many different types of rigid braces available, but they share a common structure. They usually have metal or plastic uprights (vertical posts) in the back that mirror the shape of your low back and pelvis. Rigid braces also have bands that lay across your thoracic spine (or upper back). To help transfer weight off your spine, these braces feature fabric straps that place pressure on the abdomen.

Rigid braces are known as lumbosacral orthoses because they treat conditions of the lumbar spine and sacrum. This article will cover the most commonly prescribed rigid braces. These include the:

  • chairback brace
  • Raney flexion jacket
  • Williams brace

Chairback Brace
A chairback brace is a short brace that may provide low back pain relief and spinal stability after surgery. This brace restricts your ability to bend (front, back, and to the sides) and limits how much your low back can rotate.

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Raney Flexion Jacket
The Raney flexion jacket reduces pressure and weight on the low back by securing the lumbar spine in a neutral tilt. This creates more pressure in the abdomen, which lessens the weight on the low back. The fixed tilt also helps prevent the progression of lordosis. Lordosis is a condition characterized by an abnormal, inward curve of the lumbar spine.

Williams Brace
The Williams brace is commonly prescribed to limit movement in patients with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. This rigid brace has a front elastic band, so you can bend forward, but side uprights limit how much you can bend from side-to-side. The Williams brace also limits extension.

Special Considerations
Regardless what rigid brace you need, your brace will be custom fit by an orthotist (a specialist who designs and fits braces). Ensuring that your brace fits you perfectly is so important. Also important is that you follow your doctor's specific instructions for the wear and care of your spinal brace. If you're unsure about any aspect of your bracing treatment, call your doctor and/or orthotist.

Updated on: 11/09/12
Nicola V. Hawkinson, DNP, RN
This article was reviewed by Nicola V. Hawkinson, NP.
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