Knee pain is one of the common orthopedic issues many individuals suffer after a certain age. The main reasons are like age related degeneration of the knee joints which is known as arthritis in medical terminology. Knee pain may vary from one person to the other.
Further arthritis may be of different types like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition associated with a particular joint like knee joint for example, whereas the rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by the degeneration of multiple joints. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA occurs when the immunity system of our body attacks its own organs instead of attacking the foreign particle that enters the body.
Apart from these conditions, common injuries that occur while participating in daily activities or the injuries that happen in sports may cause the knee joint to wear and tear. This may include conditions like simple damage to the knee joint (external injuries) or a severe injury may include damage to the internal parts of the knee joint like tendons, ligaments, or the muscle groups that support the knee joint.
What is a Knee Brace?
Knee braces are the supportive wear used in all of these above-mentioned conditions. But you may have big doubt that which type of knee brace to use. Well, it purely depends on your condition. Let’s explore in details about different types of knee braces available in the market and what type of knee brace serves which condition. Knee braces are in general made with the different combination of elastic material, straps, plastic, foam, and even metals depending on the purpose of that particular type of knee brace is supposed to serve.
What do Knee Braces Actually Do?
The basic benefit of the knee brace is to provide support and stability to an injured or painful knee and to avoid further damage to the knee. The benefits of a knee brace depend on the type of knee brace and the need of the patient.
Some examples are –
- An arthritic knee brace provides warmth and relief to arthritis affected knee.
- Functional knee braces or rehabilitative knee braces may help to give support to the already injured knee and help to avoid further damage to the knee joint.
- If the patient has to use knee braces after surgery, in such conditions the knee brace is used to give support and allow immobilizing the knee joint after the surgery.
- Some advanced knee braces that are used in high impact sports activities provide both lateral and medical support to the knee and help to prevent injuries by limiting the excessive knee rotation.
What are Different Types of Knee Braces?
There are different types of knee braces depending on the need they serve. Let’s explore each one in detail.
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These are technically not the braces, but sleeves made of an elastic type of material which can be worn to give warmth and support to the knee and help to manage pain and swelling. These are very basic kind of knee braces which don’t have any kind of straps etc. Basically, they are designed to provide compression to the knee joint which helps to reduce swelling and increase the blood circulation to the affected knee joint. These basic knee braces may be considered as knee brace for osteoarthritis if the condition is not so advanced.
Some good examples of this kind of knee braces are –
- Tynor Knee Cap
- Tynor Knee Cap Comfeel
Patellofemoral Knee Braces
These are the type of knee braces designed particularly to provide support to the knee cap. These types of knee braces are suggested to use in conditions like runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome. Again they come in two different types.
Knee Braces with Closed Patellar Ring
This type of knee brace is designed to give extra warmth and comfort to the knee cap. One of the best examples to this model of the knee brace is Knee Cap with Patellar Ring
Knee Braces with Open Patellar Ring
This type of knee braces can be further divided into various types depending on the type, the material used, strapped or non-strapped etc. Some of the examples of this kind of knee braces are Knee cap open patella, Elastic knee support, Knee Wrap (Neoprene)
Apart from these two types, there is also some simple strap type of knee braces are also available which provide support to the weaker knee cap or patella. Patellar support from Tynor knee braces is one good example of this kind of knee support strap.
Prophylactic Knee Braces
These are the kind of knee braces designed to support and protect the knee joints during high impact sports activities like football etc. Some good examples of this kind of knee braces are Elastic knee support and Functional knee support. These are of advanced kind of knee braces. Basic types of knee braces like Knee cap Comfeel, Patellar support, and Knee cap with the patellar ring are also used to give basic support as a preventive measure sports activities.
Functional Knee Braces
Functional knee braces are kind of knee braces that provide support to the already injured knee joint. These types of knee braces may also be used as preventive care in sports activities to avoid further injury. Tynor Functional Knee Support is one of the best examples of this type.
Rehabilitative Knee Braces
These types of knee braces are suggested to use after a severe sports injury to the knee joint or knee surgery to provide support to the knee joint for quicker recovery. Tynor Knee Immobilizer is one of the examples of these types of knee braces.
Unloader or Offloader Knee Brace
Unloader knee braces or offloader knee braces are used to minimize the load on the knee joint that is affected by osteoarthritis, particularly where only one side of the knee joint is suffered. These types of knee braces are custom built using molded plastic, metal and foam.
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.
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.
ROM or Range of Motion Knee Braces
ROM knee brace help to limit the range of motion to the injured or operated knee joint. This type of brace is also called as Bledsoe brace or hinged knee brace. Tynor ROM knee brace is the best example of this kind.
When Each Type is Recommended for Use
Let’s look into some more details about when a particular type of knee braces is suggested.
Knee Braces that are Suggested for Basic Knee Support:
Basic type of knee brace for knee pain which can also be called as knee sleeves are suggested in age related knee pain or as a preventive measure while exercising.
Some of these kinds of knee braces include –
- Knee Cap
- Knee Cap Comfeel
Knee Braces that are Suggested for Patellar Support:
Some type of knee condition where there is instability of knee cap or patella may require kind of knee braces that provide support and stability, particularly to the knee cap. Some of such types of conditions are runner’s knee and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Some of the good examples of knee braces that may be suggested in such conditions are –
- Tynor Patellar support
- Tynor Knee Cap with Patellar Ring
Knee Braces that are Suggested for Sports Injuries Like ACL Injury or Post-Surgery
Sports injuries such as ACL tear or post-surgical rehabilitation may require an advanced type of knee brace to prevent further injury and help to heal the knee joint by limiting the range of motion. These types of knee braces come with the support of hinges, straps etc. few examples of such types of knee braces are Tynor Functional Knee Support, Tynor Knee Immobilizer, and Tynor ROM knee brace
What Are The Various Brands For Knee Brace?
There are many brands of knee braces available in the market. Below mentioned are some of the knee brace brands available online. These brands are available on Amazon and can be explored from here.
- Genu Grip
- Aktive Support
How Much Does a Knee Brace Typically Cost
The cost of a knee brace depends on many factors like the brand, materials used to manufacture the brace, purpose that a brace is designed for etc. Knee braces that are designed for rehabilitative need may cost high when compared to normal knee sleeves that are used for basic knee compression and support to help knee pain and swelling. Basically, hinged knee brace types are priced high as it contains lightweight metals that help to support well and at the same durable too. Typically a hinged knee brace may cost from Rs1000 to 15000. This is the average low to high range in general. But actual knee brace price ranges vary from brand to brand.
To give a brief idea, few example knee brace price ranges from an online store such as Amazon are mentioned below –
Donjoy FullForce ACL Knee Brace – Priced at MRP of Rs 27,246.00
United Medicare Polycentric Hinged Knee Brace – Priced at MRP of Rs 13,217.00
Donjoy Reaction Knee Brace – Priced at MRP of Rs 6,499.00
Vissco Platinum Knee Brace – Priced at MRP of Rs 7,161.00
Dyna ROM Knee Brace-Universal – Priced at MRP of Rs 2,100.00
Tynor ROM Knee Brace – Priced at MRP of 2,091.00
Tynor Knee Braces are also available at a discounted price from HealthClues Shopping Portal.
Where to Buy a Knee Brace From (Local Store or Online)
When it comes to the decision of buying, it purely depends on the need of the knee brace that you are looking for. If the knee is emergency and you have to get it as soon as possible, like for example in case of any fracture scenario, you may have to rush to the nearby store and get the product depending on the need, but if the need of knee brace is not so immediate, then one may choose to purchase it form an online store. If you are very clear about the type of brace you need then the online option may be the best choice particularly if you don’t have any such orthopedic stores in your place.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying it From a Local Store
This option is best if you need the knee brace immediately like in case of fractures, accident cases etc. One would have the feasibility of choosing the right match and size. One can check the quality of the product when you physically visit the store. But one has to spend time searching the local store that provides the type of brace he/she is searching for. Travelling, time, effort are involved in this option.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying Knee Brace Online
When the need for knee brace is chronic and there is no emergency, then the online option may work the best for most of the patients. The main advantage is you get the product right there sitting in your home. If the patient is not so much online friendly, then also someone from behalf of the patient can order the product online. But one has to consider some precautions before buying it online.
- Make sure you are selecting the right type of knee brace for your need.
- If you are not sure which model of knee brace suits you, consult with your orthopedic expert doctor or physiotherapist and take their guidance.
- Once you have selected the right match for you, and then take the measurements thoroughly as mentioned in the product description and size details in the knee brace online product page.
- Check the return policies if the seller has any to make sure if you need to return the product because of any mismatch issue etc.
Why Doctor’s Advice Must be Taken Before Using a Knee Brace
As we discussed earlier in this article there are different types of knee braces available in the market. When it comes to the point of choosing the right match for your requirement, your orthopedic specialist or your physiotherapist is the right person to suggest the right kind of knee brace for your condition.
A wrong choice of knee brace may even harm rather than helping to cure your condition. If your need is basic protection and giving warmth to the painful knee joint then the basic type of knee braces may help, but if the condition is like sports injury or you need it for rehabilitation purpose after a knee surgery, then your doctor may suggest the right kind of the knee brace based on your condition.
Best Practices for Using Knee Brace – How to Use it Safely?
Also, it is advised to get the usage guidance from your doctor or physical therapist. Because depending on your knee condition and need the usage may also differ. Some may need to be worn for shorter durations and some may have to be worn all day long. Get the advice from your doctor for proper guidance for your condition.
One may feel discomfort in the initial days when they start using the knee braces, but it should get normal after few days.
Knee braces are suggested to use for providing the support needed while the patient is under rehabilitation. Along with the use of knee braces, it is also important to do knee strengthening exercises as directed by your doctor depending on your condition.
Knee braces may damage as part of regular wear and tear, check the condition of your knee brace at a regular basis. Keep your knee brace in good condition by cleaning it regularly as directed by your medical expert or as per the usage direction provided on the product leaflet.
Dr. Kaleem Mohammed graduated as a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2014 from Deccan College of Physiotherapy, affiliated to Dr. N.T.R. University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada, India. Dr. Kaleem is an expert at handling physiotherapy needs of patients suffering from orthopedic and spinal conditions and post-surgery rehabilitation. Dr. Kaleem is associated with HealthClues since its inception where he facilitates diagnosis and advanced consultation with senior doctors. He is also a medical researcher and prolific writer who loves sharing insightful commentaries and useful tips to educate the patient community about fitness, treatment options, and post-treatment recovery.