You might be experiencing knee pain, which is why you landed on this page. You want to know the right kind of knee brace to help reduce the pain. Are you suffering from osteoarthritis? Were you injured while playing football? Do you want to prevent another knee injury from happening again? Well, know the right knee support you need according to the following types of knee braces.
A knee brace, or knee orthotic, is a brace made of a combination of foam, metal, plastic, or elastic material that covers above and below the knee joint. It generally supports or aligns the knee to make it more stable or bring it back to its normal condition. Specific kinds of knee brace can help get rid of the pressure in between the joints caused by osteoarthritis or arthritis. Other kinds of knee brace make the knee more stable by limiting the range of movement.
Types of knee braces
There are four kinds of knee braces – prophylactic, rehabilitative, functional, and unloader. What is each knee brace used for?
1. Prophylactic brace
Prophylactic braces are worn to avoid injuries while playing football and other high-risk sports. They are designed to reduce the tendency of ligament injuries specifically the valgus knee stress of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) as well as the knee joints. It is popularly used by athletes to help them reduce the risk of knee injury or prevent MCL injury from happening again. Although research is still on going on the effectiveness of this kind of knee brace, many people still use it and find it comfortable and practical.
2. Functional brace
For people who already had ligament injury in the past, a functional brace is recommended. It is usually worn after an injury is healed. It helps stabilize the knee and control the range of motion to prevent another injury from happening again. But more important than the brace are rehabilitation and physical therapy as prescribed by the doctors.
3. Rehabilitative brace
The rehabilitative brace is worn while an injury or knee surgery is being healed. It limits the movement of the knee to help in fast recovery. However, some doctors do not find it effective so they no longer recommend it to their patients.
4. Unloader/offloader brace
Many middle aged people suffer from arthritis or osteoarthritis. It is a painful condition caused by the inflammation of one or more joints and tissues surrounding the knee area. Physical activities such as exercises tailored to the knee arthritis condition and overall health condition of the patient are done to relieve the pain. The unloader/offloader brace helps ease the arthritis pain as well by shifting the weight from the affected area to a stronger area.
Another common knee support is knee sleeves. It is not a knee brace technically but it is designed to provide support and compression around the knee. It helps manage pain and redness in the knee.
How to wear a knee brace?
To ensure that a knee brace works on your condition, it should be worn and used as directed by your doctor. You should wear it according to what it supposed to treat and what kind it is. Doctors might advise you to wear the knee brace all the time or might require you to wear only during physical activities like walking, exercising, or playing sports.
Generally, all kinds of knee braces should be worn with just the right pressure. It should not be worn too tightly as it might cause numbness, tingling sensations, swelling, or at the very worst cutting off the blood circulation to your legs. It should not be worn too loosely as it might not provide enough support or slide down your knees.
One simple method to ensure proper fitting of the knee brace is the two finger method. Try to insert two fingers under each strap of the knee brace. If the fingers can’t fit under the strap, it means that it is too tight, so loosen it up a little. If the fingers can easily fit under the strap, it means that it is too loose, so tighten it a bit.
Measure the girth of your knee and check the sizing chart that comes with the knee brace. Fit the knee brace using the two finger method; try to walk with it and see how it feels. With the right kind of knee brace and proper fit, your knee pain will be relieved.