Do you suffer knee pain but not sure if you should purchase a knee brace? Or better yet, already have one but don’t think it’s doing you any good? With hundreds of makes to choose from, it’s no wonder you may be feeling confused. In today’s article, however, physiotherapists get real on knee bracing questions so you can zero in on your options.
1. What are knee braces made of?
Most braces for knee tendonitis are made from soft, durable fabric such as neoprene. They work by ensuring proper alignment of the patella in the femoral groove and/or by distributing the force on the quadriceps tendon. More complex bracing options may be made of metal, fabric and plastic that include adjustable Velcro straps. An alternative to bracing is the use of taping which can be applied by your physiotherapist. This is a great way to determine if a brace is useful before investing in one as long term taping is inadvisable due to skin irritation
2. What kind of knee braces are out there?
There are four categories of knee braces which include:
- Knee sleeves (Used to protect a previous injury)
- Prophylactic knee braces (Used to prevent injury and worn by athletes in high-risk sports)
- Functional knee braces (Used as a substitution to damaged ligaments such as an ACL)
- Post-operative or rehabilitation knee braces (Hinged braces)
3. Where is your knee pain?
Ultimately, your condition or injury will dictate the type of support that you need and a visit with the physiotherapist is a great way to get started as they can evaluate your overall condition. For example, an unloading brace can help when osteoarthritis affects one side of the knee joint since the inner knee, or medial side, gets pressed together, and the cartilage, therefore, suffers more damage. The benefit of an unloading brace is it pushes against the lateral knee surface, causing the medial side to open up.In other cases, such as a patella knee injury, an immobilizer may be used to keep the knee in an extended position with minimal flexion. The goal here is to reduce the pull on the patella from the quadriceps muscle.
4. How helpful are knee braces for osteoarthritis?
Researchers at the University of Manchester conducted a study on the use of knee braces in patients with osteoarthritis and concluded improvements after six weeks of use.
5. How much padding should a knee brace have?
Proper alignment is paramount to decreasing knee stress. For conditions such as Chondromalacia Patella, an alignment issue, you want a knee brace to have buttress pads on either side to ensure the proper alignment of the patella as it glides down the knee.Functional braces support the knee and are ideal for athletes who plan to return to sports as they support the knee and protect the lateral ligaments.
For more questions on knee braces visit: https://www.pthealth.ca/service/bracing/