Best Overall back brace
Sparthos Back Brace for Lower Back Pain
Best back brace for lower back pain
Ace Adjustable Back Brace
Best back brace for sciatica
Disc Disease Solutions 300 Decompression Belt
Best back brace for herniated disc
Best back brace for lower back and abdominal support
Best back brace for degenerative disc desease
Freetoo Back Brace
Best back brace for posture
Back Brace and Posture Corrector for Women and Men
Best back brace for work and heavy lifting
AllyFlex Sports Back Brace For Lifting
Best back brace with Hot or Cold Therapy
Magic Gel Ice Pack for Back Pain Relief
Best back massager with heat therapy
Cueheat Heating Pad Back Brace with Heat and Massager
Back pain, whether chronic or temporary, can leave you feeling fully debilitated and bedridden. But you don’t have to take it lying down: Over-the-counter back braces can help alleviate chronic pain caused by myriad conditions, be it sciatica or slipped discs.
These braces are designed to have your back, literally, by reducing pressure on the spine, prevent injury and help maintain proper alignment. Most important, back braces give you the needed support to help you stay mobile, because the fact is, staying as active as possible is the fastest way to get on the road to recovery and feeling pain-free. “Lower back pain can be successfully treated with conservative measures, such as bracing and rehabilitation exercises,” orthopedic spine surgeon Jennifer Woods told us. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor first, especially if your pain is severe or chronic or you have a fever in addition to the pain, she added.
To back up our picks of the best braces, we spoke with leading orthopedic specialists and surgeons to better understand which style is best for which condition and which braces experts recommend most. We then researched more than 40 back braces that fit within the criteria the experts laid out, rating each based on conditions targeted, cost, ease of use, user reviews and in-house tester experience. Finally, we narrowed down the list to the 10 best back braces.
The best back braces of 2023
How to choose the best back brace
With so many braces available in varying sizes, designs and price points, it’s important to first consider a few key factors to ensure you get the best back brace for your needs.
Conditions treated: First and foremost, you should know the cause of your back pain so you know what condition you should be treating. Is it a strain from yard work? Degenerative discs from good ol’ aging rearing their ugly heads? Sciatica pain during or after a pregnancy? Or another more serious condition that requires surgery or physical therapy?
Rigid or semi-rigid brace: With the many braces available, it’s important to know if you need a rigid or semi-rigid brace. Rigid braces are designed to offer a higher level of immobilization and often used postsurgery or after trauma or to provide serious support after a severe injury. Semi-rigid or flexible braces allow for more rage of motion and are best for mild pain, to provide extra support during exercise and preventive support during strenuous activities. Semi-rigid braces are the most common because of offering moderate support and flexibility.
Size: It’s highly important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for taking your measurements to make sure you get the right size. A brace with adjustable straps will almost always be your best bet for ensuring a perfect fit when paired with correct sizing.
Material: Breathable, lightweight fabric that can be comfortably worn under clothing is always going to be your best bet. A machine washable brace is also going to be a big plus.
Comfort: If the brace isn’t comfortable, you likely will not wear it. Keep in mind, rigid braces are less likely to feel comfortable but may still be what you need.
Extra features: Extra features are always a welcome bonus. Look for extra stays, anti-bunching elastic, breathable, cooling fabrics and any other features that will help alleviate your pain and keep you comfortable and active. One of our experts, Dr. Stephen J. Wallace, an orthopedic trauma and deformity specialist, tells us he recommends braces that include inserts for ice or heat packs, which can be beneficial for pain, inflammation and swelling.
How we choose the best back braces
To find the best back braces for varying conditions, we first spoke with board-certified orthopedic specialists and spine surgeons to learn which style of back brace is best for which condition, and which braces the experts recommend most for the various conditions. Using the experts’ feedback, our team researched over 40 back braces, including testing quite a few ourselves. The final list is composed of the best back braces based on the condition it’s designed to treat, comfort, first-person experience, ease of use and affordability.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I see a doctor about my back pain?
It’s always best to consult with your doctor after any injury, especially one that is debilitating. Something that may feel like a minor ache or pain could be caused by an underlying condition. For example, Dr. Patrick Dermarkarian, an orthopedic spine surgeon, told us, “Osteoporosis is fairly common, and the smallest of injuries can result in fractures.”
Do back braces relieve pain?
In most cases, a back brace will almost instantly relieve pain if worn correctly. It’s also important the correct brace is worn for the condition causing the pain. If your back pain is chronic or severe, it’s best to check in with your physician before making a purchase.
How long should you wear a back brace?
Dr. Melissa Boyette, and orthopedic surgeon, stresses that, “I would caution against wearing a brace longer than a few weeks if you have not been evaluated by a physician.” Bracing over a prolonged period of time can lead to stiffness and weakness, she adds.
How long should I wear a posture-correcting back brace?
Some may be of the mindset that in order to correct posture issues, they should wear a brace constantly. According to Candy, that isn’t true. “Wear a brace as needed, but you shouldn’t wear it all the time.” The goal with a posture-correcting brace is to get you used to maintaining proper posture on your own. Wear it for a few hours while sitting, then try to mimic the posture without the brace. Great posture is a life-long benefit, once you’re accustomed to maintaining great posture, it should become second nature.
Meet our experts
Melissa Boyette, MD, orthopedic surgeon
Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, FAAOMPT
Patrick Dermarkarian, MD, orthopedic spine surgeon
Liza Egbogah, BSc, DC, DOMP
Stephen J. Wallace, MD, orthopedic trauma and deformity specialist
Jennifer Woods, MD, orthopedic surgeon
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.