Low Back Pain Relief and Pneumatic Vest Use

Low back pain. Up to 90% of us have it at some point in our lives and over 6 million Americans are treated for it every day. It's that sudden, sharp, persistent or dull pain felt at the level of your waist or below. For many of us, the pain increases when we walk or stand for more than a few minutes and our only relief is to lie down.

The good news is that the vast majority of cases of low back pain do not require surgery. Nonsurgical treatments that often help include short-term best rest, pain medications to reduce inflammation and pain, spinal injections, chiropractic, physical therapy, and bracing. Yet for many chronic back pain sufferers, these treatments do not provide enough relief. But now there may be hope with a device called the Orthotrac Pneumatic Decompression Vest.

orthotrac pneumatic decompression vest
Orthotrac Pneumatic Decompression Vest

What can bracing do for me?
Traditionally, the goals of spinal bracing are to control back pain by limiting motion, unloading discs, and stabilizing weak or injured areas of the back. In most cases, braces are used during episodes of acute pain, injury, or after surgery. They can be either stiff or soft in construction and are prescribed to be worn anywhere from all day to just when performing certain activities.

A pneumatic vest has similar properties to traditional spinal braces but with an additional function. The vest is designed to actually "unload" some of the weight placed on the lower back using inflatable lifters.

How does "unloading" help?
Did you ever wonder why your back pain subsides when you lie down? It's because in that position, the lower back does not have to carry as much weight - it is "unloaded". But lying in bed all the time is not only impractical, but also unhealthy. Getting up and moving around, as well as being able to participate in normal daily activities, are keys to living a healthy life.

The Orthotrac Pneumatic Decompression Vest is designed to transfer about 50% of a person's body weight off the lumbar spine onto the iliac crests in the hips. This is accomplished through the use of inflatable pneumatic lifters. You control the amount of force generated by the vest through an inflation device. Just pump up the lifters on the vest until symptoms are relieved, then return to your everyday activities. The vest can also be instantly deflated if necessary.

Who can benefit from a pneumatic vest?
Patients with low back or radicular pain lasting more than 8 weeks that increases during certain activities (such as walking or standing) and decreases after lying down for 20-30 minutes may find relief from the Orthotrac Pneumatic Decompression Vest. This includes patients with such spinal conditions as:

• Herniated or bulging discs
• Nerve root entrapment
• Spinal stenosis
• Foraminal stenosis
• Degenerative disc disease
• Facet Syndrome
• Spondylolisthesis

However, in order to be able to use the vest correctly, patients must fit the following criteria:

  • Be able to stand straight (necessary for the lifters to operate)
  • Have abdominal measurements between 24-57 inches
  • Keep in mind, the Orthotrac Pneumatic Decompression Vest is not intended for heavy lifting and is not recommended for patients who are pregnant.

How often can the vest be used?
The Orthotrac Pneumatic Decompression Vest is usually prescribed to be worn during those activities that produce the most symptoms, such as walking or standing. There is no minimum amount of time the vest can be used, however patients who don't realize an immediate improvement in symptoms should wear it 2-3 times a day for 30-60 minutes at a time until they find the optimal wear pattern. It can be worn at home or work and at the patient's convenience, which makes it easier to comply with prescribed therapeutic guidelines. It can also be used in conjunction with other therapies such as physical or occupational therapy.

Updated on: 02/23/17
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