Back braces, a type of orthotic device, are designed to support, immobilize and treat muscles, joints, and skeletal problems, and it is not uncommon for a doctor to prescribe them. Back braces fall into two wide categories: the hard, rigid types and the soft, elastic versions. The rigid design is used to treat more serious conditions like scoliosis and these braces tend to restrict movement in patients by as much as 50%. The more common brace has a soft, elastic backing used to compress the abdominal cavity and the joints and muscles associated with that area. The compression helps to stabilize and support muscles and allows for a forward motion of the spine. Many back brace users wear the device primarily during times of physical stress to help avoid injury.