Knee braces are supports to be worn when you have pain in your knees. Arthritis is one such condition where a person has painful knees. In osteoarthritis of the knee, there is inflammation of the joints capsule which results in joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age especially after 45 years.
There are many causes of Knee Osteoarthritis like old age, obesity, heredity, Repetitive stress injuries, etc. The treatment plan for knee osteoarthritis is a holistic approach. It includes Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, strengthening the muscles via physical therapy, alternative therapies and using devices such as knee braces.
An arthritis knee brace or knee supports encourage mobility and activity of a person which becomes restricted because of painful knees. Knee braces are helpful if you have pain while doing any kind of weight-bearing activities such as standing up from a sitting position, while going up and down on the stairs, etc. A simple brace in the case of knee osteoarthritis shows a very worthwhile benefit in terms of reducing pain and function rather than relying on pain killers.
Types of Knee Braces
There are different kinds of knee braces available as per the utility.
Functional Knee Braces
Functional Knee Braces are beneficial in stabilizing the knee and control motion. These types of knee braces are mainly useful to give support to the knee which is injured already.
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Rehabilitative Knee Braces
Rehabilitative Knee Braces are recommended to use in conditions where the patient has undergone any knee surgery like knee replacement or ligament surgery or ACL surgery. It is recommended to use for a period of weeks after an injury or surgery.
Unloader Knee Braces
Unloader Knee braces are mainly recommended to redistribute the weight. This brace pushes the knee back into normal alignment and puts more force to the outside compartment which is less damaged. They put off the surgery for as long as possible while others wear it to become healthier surgical candidates.
Immobilizer Knee Braces
Immobilizer Knee Braces are recommended to use during a recovery period in certain conditions such as ligament tears like ACL injury or PCL injury especially in conditions that require surgical repair.
Knee braces are not just sufficient to prevent knee injuries or healing after an injury. Good strength and flexibility are also important. It is recommended to do some joint strengthening exercises to strengthen the knee joint.
Knee braces for osteoarthritis patients can be used in the following conditions:
Knee Braces as a kinesthetic reminder
In the early stages of Osteoarthritis, when it’s too painful and the patient feels insecure, even performing the daily activities such as walking, stairs climbing, etc. may become difficult for the patient. In such conditions, soft knee braces can be used just to provide a sense of security and support. However, long term use of knee braces may lead to dependency and even might cause some negative effects such as disuse muscle atrophy, muscle weakness. It is recommended to do some muscle strengthening exercises along with the usage of these knee braces to avoid these negative effects.
Knee Braces as a supportive/de-loader
In the middle stage of Osteoarthritis, when there is marked muscle weakness and joint degeneration, rigid braces can be used to de-load the joint and support the joint. It is highly recommended that a supervised exercise program should be done with brace-on. Rehab should be done with the aim of progressively increasing the exercises while eventually weaning off the brace for the long term relief of the OA symptoms.
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Knee Braces as a Corrective device
In the late stages of OA, the patient usually develops knee deformities such as Varus or Valgus deformity. The rigid knee braces that work on 3-point corrective force system can be used to correct mild deformity along with supervised exercise program. Gradually weaning off the knee braces are recommended with the continuation of exercise program.
Wearing brace as a treatment for OA enhances stability, reduces swelling of the knee cap, Reduces pressure around the muscles and increases confidence to walk.
It is recommended to opt for a Knee brace as per Physician or Physiotherapist consultation for a particular condition of the knee rather than just opting randomly.
Dr. KRITI SACHDEVA (PT) is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, done M.P.T and B.P.T from Banarasidas Chandiwala Institute of Physiotherapy affiliated to G.G.S.I.P.U (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University) Delhi. She has worked as Senior Spine Physiotherapist for around 4 years with Qi Spine Clinic, leading chain of Spine Rehabilitation and is currently associated with Aktiv Ortho in Gurgaon. She is also an Antenatal instructor and delivers Child birthing classes for the expectant mothers in various Clinics in DEL/NCR.
She loves writing and contributes to different magazines and has also got published an article in the paper “Asian Age” and is also associated with magazine “Radiance”. She likes to add to the knowledge database of the readers too by addressing their queries on Quora to related to Health and medicine.
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