Imagine this: Your knee started to ache several months ago. It was never at the forefront of your mind because you live a busy life. Then, you started to notice the knee pain more frequently in recent weeks.
You made an appointment with your family doctor to talk to them about it. At your appointment, they may have provided you with a diagnosis and told you to try a knee brace.
You want the best for your health and you want this pain to disappear. Being the crafty internet researcher you are, you want to learn more about your options.
Most knee conditions have a spectrum of braces that could work, whether you are looking for light, medium, or heavy-duty support. Choosing the right knee brace that is comfortable to wear during the activities you require it for is paramount to anything else.
There are so many bracing options available on the market that there is something for everyone. Here is an overview of bracing options for several of the most common conditions we see at Walking Mobility Clinics.
Someone who has medial or lateral osteoarthritis of the knee should wear a medical compression knee sleeve. A knee sleeve is a high-quality medical grade compression sleeve that is made of comfortable and breathable knit material and is sized correctly for you.
It can also help reduce swelling in the knee and provide proprioceptive feedback. If the medical grade compression sleeve does not provide enough support, you may want to try a brace that provides medial and lateral support with metal hinges.
The hinges will allow your knee to bend and straighten normally but will restrict side-to-side movement in the knee. This can help reduce the feeling of instability in the knee.
The most supportive option for medial or lateral knee osteoarthritis is an unloading knee brace. Unloading braces can be custom made for you or purchased off the shelf. The purpose of an unloading brace is to reduce pressure on the damaged area of your knee.
There are many unloading brace styles available, so these kinds of braces require an appointment at Walking Mobility Clinics.
Someone with a meniscus tear often has pain when walking, running, and going up and down stairs. They may also experience clicking sounds or feel like their knee is locking.
Typically, if you have a meniscus tear, you would benefit from having a brace that has hinges on both sides of your knee. A hinged brace will provide side-to-side support for the knee and reduce the feeling of instability.
If pain, and knee clicking or locking, are still a problem with a hinged knee brace, you might find support from an unloader brace.
To use an unloader brace, it’s ideal that your meniscus injury is isolated to either the medial or lateral compartment of the knee. Unloader braces are worn to reduce pressure on the knee where there is damage to the meniscus. This should reduce pain, as well as clicking sounds, or the feeling of your knee locking.
There are many unloading brace styles available, so these kinds of braces require an appointment. A Walking Mobility Clinics bracing specialist can help you through choosing the right knee brace for you.
The right knee brace for a ligament injury depends on what ligament is damaged, and how extensive the damage is. A medial-lateral hinged brace may provide all the support that you need if the injury is to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) or lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
You need a rigid-framed brace if the injured ligament is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), or if the MCL or LCL is injured, but does not feel adequately supported with a sleeve-hinge knee brace. This will restrict motion of the tibia because a forward-back motion is required.
If you have a PCL tear, you may benefit from using a custom-made brace called the Ossur Rebound PCL. This revolutionary brace combines all the ligament support of a rigid frame brace with a proprietary Dynamic Tension System™ to provide support for the PCL.
As this is a highly-specialized and custom brace, this brace requires an appointment with a Walking Mobility Clinic bracing specialist. Sleeve braces can’t properly support the ACL unless they have very specific and rigid strapping. If you are inquiring about a brace for an ACL injury, you will require an appointment with a bracing specialist at Walking Mobility Clinics. They will be happy to help you choose the right knee brace.
If you have patellofemoral pain or have experienced patella subluxation or dislocation, you may benefit from wearing a brace with a patella buttress, or padding around the kneecap. This can help keep the patella in the correct position as you move.
If you need a light level of support, you may find support from a medical grade compression sleeve, as it has a gentle buttress around the patella. If you require more support, you may benefit from a brace that has a more substantial buttress.
Do I need a brace with an open, or closed, kneecap?
If you have damaged cartilage under the patella, and you have a diagnosis with patella OA or chondromalacia, then a brace with an open circle around the patella would be most suitable.
This will reduce pressure on the cartilage on the underside of the knee cap. If you have been diagnosed with patellofemoral pain syndrome, or patella subluxation or dislocation, the buttress (or padding) around the knee cap is most important.
Whether the knee area is open or closed is a matter of personal preference.
Remember: Choosing the right knee brace for you is a very personal decision. There is no ‘best brace’ – the right brace for you is the brace you are going to wear. The brace fitters at Walking Mobility Clinics are there with you every step of the way! A qualified brace fitter should help you determine the correct size by taking specific measurements of your knee.