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Knee braces for osteoarthritis


Knee braces are medical devices prescribed by healthcare professionals (HCPs) in cases of osteoarthritis of knee joints and other knee disorders. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common type of arthritis that affects various body parts like the hands, hips, shoulders, and knees. OA damages the cartilage that protects the bone ends, leading to pain, swelling, and loss of alignment of joints. OA can affect a part of the knee or the whole knee. Hence, braces are prescribed to stabilize the knee joint, reduce the biomechanical load on the joint, and keep it in place. 

HCPs prescribe braces to give enough support and protection to the knees after an injury like OA or knee surgery. Knee braces are also called orthoses. Braces are made from metal, foam, plastic, elastic, and straps. A knee brace is personalized and made to fit specially for the person wearing it.

Indications of knee braces:

Knee bracing is a simple, widely available, conservative, non-invasive treatment option to reduce the symptoms of knee disorders. They are indicated for various Knee conditions like ligament injuries of the knees, runner’s knee (Patellofemoral pain syndrome), Knee cap instability (patellar instability), tendon issues (patellar tendonitis), and dislocations of patellar bone. Sometimes, braces may also be prescribed for conditions like peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, and weakened knee joints. Braces are also prescribed to prevent any injury to the knee during sports. 

Function of Knee braces:

Knee braces support the knee and keep it in place. They maintain the knee alignment, reduce the stress on the knee joints, and prevent any sudden movement of the knees. They are made of stiff materials with a cushion to prevent the knee joint from moving too far from its position. They are wrapped around the knee and leg to give maximum support to the joint. OA generally damages one side of the knee more than the other. Thus, using the braces puts down the pressure on the affected side, keeps the knee aligned, and also allows movement. 

There are many types of knee braces, depending on their function. They are functional knee braces, Unloader knee braces, Patellofemoral knee braces, Knee immobilizer braces, Sleeve braces, and Prophylactic braces. Unloader braces are the most common type of braces for OA. They support the knee by absorbing some weight and unloading the pressure off the knee to other leg parts that are strong enough to bear it. Patellofemoral braces are prescribed when the kneecap, also called the patella, has to be protected and supported along with the front of the knee. Knee immobilizer braces are prescribed during the recovery stage of knee surgery. They are prescribed when the knee has to be kept stiff without any movement or very mild movement.

Functional knee braces are prescribed to support the knee in its function. They help to use the knee safely by letting it have functional movement but prevent excessive and too far movement in a single direction. They are commonly prescribed after knee injuries. Athletes wear prophylactic braces to prevent knee injuries. Athletes who play contact sports like football or rugby are at increased risk of injuries. Hence, they are prescribed to avoid sports injuries in the athletes. Sleeve braces are prescribed for acute knee injuries when OA flares up and for knee pain or dysfunction. 

Some braces are available over the counter, but some are customized for the patients based on the prescription from the HCPs. Most braces are worn using a Velcro strap that fits around the knee. A Knee brace should fit snuggly around the knee and not too tight or loose. Even though it causes discomfort at first as it pushes the knee to an aligned position, it should not worsen the knee pain. 

Custom Knee Brace:

HCPs may refer to an orthopedist who specializes in making braces. They take measurements and customize the brace based on individual requirements, symptoms, needs, and activity goals. 

Benefits of Knee Brace:

A knee brace keeps the knee aligned by keeping the knee straight and shifting the pressure from the part of the knee with more wear and tear. It helps reduce the pain, keeps the joint in place, and allows exercise to strengthen the muscles around.  They also heal the tissues around the joint, giving them time and space to recover from trauma or surgery.  They are excellent adjunctive therapies for individuals undergoing physical therapy after a knee injury or surgery. 

Risks due to Knee braces:

No significant risks are associated with wearing a knee brace except for mild discomfort and heaviness around the joint. They can cause mild swelling and irritation if the fit is improper. However, they may also cause joint stiffness as they do not allow weight on the joint.  

The success of Knee braces:

Knee bracing is considered successful if it can give the necessary protection and support to the knee, relieve the pain, keep an individual safe, and make them feel confident. They are not a substitute for further treatment or visiting a healthcare provider. 


Knee braces for osteoarthritis are a valuable adjunctive therapy that reduces pain, stabilizes the joint, and improves overall function and mobility. These braces offer significant benefits in managing knee-related conditions by tailoring to individual needs, empowering to engage in daily activities and pursue an active lifestyle with greater confidence. Though they are crucial in enhancing quality of life, consultation with healthcare professionals remains pivotal for proper assessment, guidance, and treatment planning.


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