Back Brace Tips to Improve Outcomes and Profitability

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When it comes to back bracing, we receive a variety of questions.  Which brace is the best?  How long should patients wear them?  Which ones can be billed to insurance companies? Do they really make a difference in clinical outcomes? Read our responses below. Support Braces Can be Used for a Variety of Reasons:
  • Limiting movement
  • Providing added support while one recovers from a back injury or spinal surgery
  • Providing reinforced protection for back muscles while one performs strenuous manual labor
  • Adding direct pressure to increase the healing effects of heat, ice or topical medications
  • Providing a psychosomatic placebo effect due to a positively conditioned response.
  It must be said that while support braces can provide some of these benefits, they must be well designed and they must be indicated for the particular condition treated. A majority of patients who utilize support braces do so without necessary cause and choose devices that are not designed to provide the benefit desired. The Correct Choice is Based on 3 Basic Fundamentals. 
  1. How much and what type of support does the patient need?
  2. Does the brace include a built-in ice pack?
  3. Will the brace be billed to an insurance company?
  Required Support When it comes to support, ask yourself, “Are you trying to prevent motion to aid in disc healing, or are you simply trying to provide additional support to help a patient enjoy a more active lifestyle? If a patient presents with an acute or severe condition (7--10 or greater), we recommend a back brace that is very rigid and prevents motion during at least the first few weeks.  This type of brace can be worn every day for most of the day during the first two weeks of treatment.  Our recommendation for a brace suited to this condition can be found here. Our experience indicates that braces should be worn more frequently in the beginning stages of therapy and less frequently once the healing process takes place. We typically recommend that our patients wear braces daily during the first 4-6 weeks of spinal decompression treatments.  After patients realize significant medical improvement, we recommend slowly decreasing brace support, reserving the support for strenuous activities such participating in sports, strenuous household chores or exercise.  Best practices suggest that activities to strengthen core musculature help decrease dependencies on back bracing. Ice Pack Ice therapy can prove extremely important to outcomes if executed within the first few hours following decompression treatment. A distinguishing feature of some braces is the inclusion of a built-in ice pack.  As soon as the patient concludes a spinal decompression therapy session, we immediately place a frozen ice pack in the back brace and strap the brace on snugly.  This step will not only provide the therapeutic value of ice, but will also help to keep pressure off the affected disc. If symptoms are less severe, a cheaper, less restrictive back brace will suffice. Commonly available supportive products can be purchased from any sporting goods store, Walgreens, or from a company like Jaco for less than $20 each. Insurance The next thing to consider is insurance coverage. Conservative estimates for back brace reimbursement range from $200 and $300.  Contrary to popular belief, billing for back braces do not necessarily raise red flags if done correctly.  If you are going to bill for a back brace, make sure that the brace is PDAC certified and that you are following all of the prescribed insurance company guidelines. What role do back braces play in your practice?   If you need help with guidance on how to properly bill for back braces email us at and we can point you in the right direction.

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