Little Support for Lumbar Supports
There are more than 100 different types of lumbar supports on the market worldwide. Some lumbar supports are designed to prevent back problems from starting; others are used to protect people with back problems from further injury. But there is little evidence to show how effective lumbar supports actually are.
The authors reviewed all the research they could find on the ability of lumbar supports to prevent or treat low back pain without any specific cause. They found only a few high quality studies. Only seven studies of preventive effects and six studies of treatment effects were judged good enough to be included in the review.
The results showed no strong evidence either for or against lumbar supports. The prevention studies showed moderate evidence that lumbar supports are not effective in preventing LBP, and that supports are no more effective than other prevention efforts. But the treatment studies were somewhat conflicting. There was limited evidence that suggested that a lumbar support with a stiff insert in the back was helpful in patients with low back pain.
The authors suggest that more studies should be done to compare the different types of lumbar supports. They also suggest research on using lumbar supports to prevent further back pain in patients who have already developed back problems. There was almost no research in this area. Based on their research, the authors conclude that there is little support for lumbar supports. Their research showed no real benefits for using a support in the prevention or treatment of low back pain.
Petra Jellema, MSc, et al. Lumbar Supports for Prevention and Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review Within the Framework of the Cochrane Back Review Group. In Spine. February 15, 2001. Vol. 26. No. 4. Pp. 377-386.