Inflated claims, certainly. There are several inflatable back support/decompression contraptions on the market for $100-400 (plus countless other braces and support belts). They mostly “work” minimally by providing novel sensory input that reinforces the idea of security and stability — a sensation-aided placebo
. That is, you don’t just hope
that such a gadget supports or decompresses your back, it feels
that way — whether it does or not, which is doubtful
. Unfortunately, it also strongly
encourages the insiduous idea that backs need
stabilizing in the first place.
I don’t want to talk anyone out of a lovely sensation-boosted placebo: a firm, wide belt might just help your nagging back pain. But what you believe about what it’s doing for you is critical! Your belief has more power than the treatment itself, and spinal stabilization contraptions usually do more to reinforce self-defeating beliefs about spinal fragility than spines.
Readers asked, and I’ve finally delivered: there’s now a whole new section about these products in my low back pain book.