A knee brace is a special kind of orthosis to support, align, and strengthen or protect the knee. Orthosis is an external device which is used to modify neuromuscular and skeletal systems. It is capable of controlling and limiting the movement of a body segment and if needed restrict or assist movement, too. This device is suggested to treat the neurological or muscular impairment of muscles surrounding the knee. In such conditions, the knee brace prevents flexion or extension instability of the knee. Also, the knee brace is used to provide stabilization to the knee by replacing the function of injured or damaged ligaments or cartilage of the knee. If your doctor has already suggested one or you are looking for one for your workout, here are some tips to guide in purchasing the right knee brace for you.
When to Wear a Knee Brace
The primary objective of wearing a knee brace is for structural support and pain relief. If you have anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or some type of knee injury, the knee brace will provide added structural support externally during the recovery process. The structural knee brace can be classified into three categories: Prophylactic, Functional, and Rehabilitation braces.
- The Prophylactic knee brace is worn by sportsmen in contact sports. This type of knee brace with a knee hinge reduces the magnitude of ligament damages.
- The functional knee brace is prescribed in cases of pre-existing knee injuries and the brace limits the rotation of the knee along with providing support to heal the injury.
- Rehabilitation braces are designed to limit the movement of the knee in both medial and lateral directions. These braces have an adjustable range of motion stop potential for limiting flexion and extension following ACL reconstruction.
The knee brace is also useful in relieving osteoarthritis or chronic pain from a previous injury. A knee brace like an unloader brace is designed to “unload” stress that is caused by arthritis in the inner knee. However, the deciding factors to wear a mask are based on which ligament is injured, what is your plan of rehabilitation and what sport you are participating in.
What Levels of Protection You Need
There are different knee braces providing different levels of support.
- The primary level knee brace such as the knee sleeve is the most flexible and offers the least amount of support. By wearing this, you will remain fully active yet the brace will relieve pain and provide moderate support.
- The intermediate level knee brace such as the wraparound braces and knee straps offer more support than primary level braces with moderate movement ranges. This type of brace is used to treat pain relief associated with ligament instabilities and tendonitis.
- When it requires very firm knee support, the advanced level knee braces are applied. They are strong and heavy built and best for recovering from surgery when knee movement should be limited to prevent re-injuring yourself.
Types of Knee Brace
Based on the basic construction, the knee braces can be classified in several varieties.
Knee sleeves: this type of brace is pretty flexible to use and can be worn under a trouser comfortably. In order to reduce swelling and pain, the knee sleeve compresses the targeted areas gently which increases the blood circulation. You can slip them right over the knee and you can choose from the different sizes to fit perfectly.
Hinged Knee Braces: this brace aligns your knee properly when it bends and assists in the recovery process after surgery. It also prevents the future possibility of injury. The hinged brace is suggested immediately after surgery and when you recover to some extent, another type of knee brace may be advised.
Knee Strap: A knee strap or knee band is used to treat patellar tendonitis and Osgood-Schlatter’s disease effectively and comfortably. This strap incorporates an infrapatellar-pad insert and a D-ring strap with velcro fasteners. The knee straps are prescribed in cases of chondromalacia patella and patellofemoral arthrosis. They are very effective in preventing the chances of developing other knee problems like runner’s knee in which the knee joint is inflamed due to constant motion and provide good knee support.
Closed and Open Patella Braces: the Patella or kneecap braces are used to stop abnormal tracking of kneecap during movements. Open patella braces have opened in the center of the brace where closed patella braces have continuous structure. These two varieties of knee braces offer different types of support and benefits. Open patella braces ensure proper movement and tracking and closed patella braces offer great all-round protection for the knee. You should consult a doctor to decide whether you need an open palette or closed palette braces.
Wraparounds: dual wrap or wraparound braces are well suited for sportsmen who are suffering from mild to moderate knee pain patellar instabilities and dislocation. These braces are easy to wear and adjustable straps help to fit them properly and they are not bulky and heavyweights like hinged braces.
Unloader braces: an unloader brace may reduce your pain and improve mobility to a great extent while at rest. This brace is designed to transfer stress from the damaged side of the joint to the healthy side. It is custom made and utilizes material like molded plastic, foam, or steel struts. In order to bend the knee away from the painful area of the joint, the brace put pressure on three points of the thigh. By adjusting the unloading hinge, you can unload either the medial (inner) or lateral (outer) part of the knee for some varieties.
Custom Knee Brace: normally, these types of devices are prescribed by the doctor and they are made by taking the exact measurements of the patient’s leg and circumference of the thigh and calf area.
How Knee Braces Work For Knee Pain, Injury, and Instability?
Different types of knee braces function and facilitate recovery in different ways. The primary level braces support the structure of the knee very little. The main purpose of such braces is to keep the knee joint warm and compress gently to alleviate the pain. In the case of patellofemoral joint injuries, the patellofemoral brace is used which is designed to push the knee cap outward during knee motion. There is a doughnut-shaped hole in the brace with elevated edges that surround the kneecap and it allows the joint to track properly.
To prevent sprains of either of the side ligaments of the knee, the hinged braces are used. The hinge brace limits the left and right motion of the knee. Some hinge braces are fashioned with rigid bars that act as the second stabilizer aligned inside and/or outside the knee. Other versions have locking mechanisms to prohibit extreme bend or straight position.
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) brace is designed to limit rotation and forward translation of the tibia in order to prevent ACL injuries. The ACL braces are custom made with accurate measurements of the patient’s leg. Also, cuffs are incorporated for proper fitting. These braces are prescribed for athletes after surgery.
The knee immobilizers are applied instantaneously after ligamentous injury and surgery. This brace covers the area between the upper thigh and the calf. The knee immobilizer has a curved plate behind the knee which extends from the thigh to the calf and plates on each side of the knee to protect the collateral ligaments.
However, there are controversies among doctors about the effectiveness of such braces to reduce knee pain. The patient should be the judge on this issue.
Benefits of Wearing Knee Brace
The knee joints are very easy to get overstressed which makes them vulnerable to injury even performing simple activities. But knee braces can prevent such injuries by supporting knee joints. They assist the patient to remain mobile while the injury heals and as they engage in physiotherapy.
When the knee joint is forcibly twisted or sharply bent, the result is tearing of the ligaments that hold the knee together. A knee brace prevents such injuries by limiting the extension of the joint and compressing the tissue around the knee.
After any surgery or injury, the knee brace is advised as it can speed up the recovery process and prevent further injury. The knee brace provides support and control of the movements in the joint. It can unload the knee joint which reduces the pain associated with arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other associated issues. The knee brace distributes the pressure to the thigh area creating better mobility in the knee joint while reducing stiffness.
Best Knee Brace For Supportive And Specific Pain Condition
DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace
Industry-leading brand DonJoy presents the DonJoy performance bionic knee brace which is a bilateral hinged brace providing superior support and protection. The brace features anti-migrant technology to prevent slip and permeated neoprene ensure excellent ventilation. Wrap around style design and stretch webbing closure with TPR pull tabs at the top and bottom of the brace allow precision fit and easy wearing.
There is a hex shape opening in the kneecap spot of the brace which provides support and stability during flexion and extension of the knee joint. The polycentric bilateral hinge and hyperextension stop the injury from hindering your performance. The performance bionic knee brace from DonJoy is advised for the people with joint instability or medial/lateral ligament instability. The surface of the brace is reflective for better visibility and there is a stash pocket for keys and cards.
- Asymmetrical hemline and stretch webbing fastener allow perfect fit.
- Hex shaped opening at patella stabilizes the knee
- A stash pocket for accessories
- Polycentric bilateral hinge along with hyperextension guard prevents injury.
- People with large thigh might have difficulties wearing them in a sitting position
- Velcro fasteners get caught on the clothing.
Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression Hinged Knee Brace
The Shock Doctor hinged knee brace is composed of latex-free high-quality material and heavy-duty dual bilateral hinges. These braces have premium quality stitchings and integrated aluminum side stays which is securely anchored with Hypalon sleeves. The sturdy bilateral hinge provides enough support with minimum interaction to your movement. They are anatomically designed with a four-way Lycra mesh for the left and the right knee to fit perfectly. This x-fit strap system is very easy to adjust and fits the brace very securely.
The brace is treated with antimicrobial treatment which prevents odor and bacteria growth. Also, the vented n-tex neoprene increases the airflow and wicks away moisture.
The Shock Doctor Knee braces support and compress the soft tissue and joint alignment and retain therapeutic heat which improves blood flow and aid in healing tendon and muscle. These braces assist in healing medial and lateral instability, minor patella instability, meniscus injuries, minor ligament sprains, arthritis, and more.
- Anatomically designed for left and right knee
- Top-quality latex-free breathable material
- Slip-proof fitting
- Adjustable strap system
- Heavy-duty bilateral hinges and aluminum side stays provide strong support but don’t hinder your mobility much.
- These braces are designed to fit closely. If you follow the size chart, you may sometime get a brace which will not fit properly
- Some customers complained about durability.
TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support (open patella)
TechWare Pro started its venture with an aim to improve the existing orthosis product in the market and enhance user experiences by delivering the product designed to meet the user’s requirement. The TechWare Pro knee braces come in 4 different sizes for men, women, and children. This open patella brace has four stabilizer coils for better knee cap protection, flexibility, and stability. In order to keep the brace in place, there are non-slip silicone grip bead lining on the inner side of the brace.
The TechWare Pro knee braces are fashioned with three unique bi-directional straps that compress the knee joint evenly. Lightweight and flexible neoprene is used to construct this brace which allows good ventilation and wicks away moisture. Wearing this brace will reduce pain associated with Tears, Arthritis, Bursitis, and Tendonitis. There are gel pads that improve swelling and inflammation. You will get maximum support from these braces if you are a runner. Also, you can boost your performance in activities like Football, Tennis, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Skiing, Running, Jogging, Walking, Hiking, Wrestling, Yoga, Gymnastics, Squats, and many more by using them.
- Bi-directional straps distribute the pressure evenly
- Non-slip lining
- Lightweight material
- Air ventilation and moisture management
- Since it’s made of neoprene, knee support is not very strong
POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve
Powerlix designs a vast array of performance apparel for athletes and other active people. The Powerlix compression sleeve for the knee is ergonomically designed and it offers maximum flexibility. This sleeve is knitted with a special fabric blend that can stretch 4-way to provide excellent support and protection. This fabric also absorbs moisture and allows air ventilation so that you can wear it all day long with dry and odor-free knee. To match different joints, this sleeve adopts a special knitted technical design. The Powerlix knee sleeves provide optimal compression and muscle support for the knee when running, gym exercise, etc. and to prevent slipping away during these activities, they have double silicone gel strips.
- Ergonomic design to fit perfectly
- Special fabric capable to stretch in multiple directions
- Breathable and moisture-wicking fabric
- Maximum mobility
- As it is a compression sleeve, it provides the only compression to muscle and no structural support
Neo G Knee Brace
If you are seeking a knee brace for your daily life activities where mobility is important as well as support and protection, Neo G knee brace is your thing. This medical-grade device is designed meticulously to manage pain related to arthritis, aching joints, as well as aid recovery from meniscus tears, ACL, patella injuries, and runners’ knees. Neo G knee brace is designed in one universal size to fit either left or right knee and to fit perfectly, it has adjustable compression straps for variable compression force around your knee. These straps have bound edges for durability.
There are 4 interchangeable metal spring coils (2 on each side) attached to the brace which provide adjustable side stabilization along with controlled and flexible knee movement. This open patella brace also has padded buttresses to support and reinforce kneecap. Made of flexible neoprene, these braces retain therapeutic heat to heal injuries.
- Therapeutic heat is retained by the brace
- Universal size
- Medical grade knee brace
- Patella support
- Flexible yet sturdy support
- Premium-quality neoprene is utilized to construct these braces.
- Some customers complain about fitting
Orthomen Unloader Knee Brace
Orthomen unloader knee brace is designed to manage osteoarthritis of the knee. This brace reduces the lateral pressure of the knee joints and often helps to delay the surgery. You can wear the braces with minimum effort because of quick snaps and adjustable strapping systems. To prevent slip off, there are silicone gripped liner and strap pads on the brace.
For optimized pain relief, the Orthomen unloader braces provide compartmental offloading with the help of a unique valgus angle adjustment facility. You can also adjust manually the flexion guards to control the motion of the knee. The brace distributes the knee joint stress over 3 points and employs condyle pads for increased comfort, stability, and pain control.
- Easy to wear
- Compartmental offloading of the knee joint with unique valgus angle adjustment system
- Option for flexion guard adjustment
- Straps length can be adjusted
- Medical grade device for osteoarthritis.
- Buckles are not very dependable and don’t hold all the time
Nvorliy Plus Size Knee Brace
Novrliy knee braces are designed for plus size people with large legs. Since this product is targeted for heavyweight people, the durability of this brace is commendable. Top-grade neoprene is utilized for this brace which is lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking, treated with antibacterial treatment, and you will have excellent tactile experience when you wear them. For more endurance, reinforced double stitching and strong adjustable straps are employed. An overweight person will get enough protection for the knee joint while running, gym exercise, or cycling.
Nvorliy open patella knee braces have EVA padding on the kneecap area to disperse pressure and relieve shock. In order to ensure stability, the double D-ring hinges with six steel springs are attached to the brace. You can adjust the compression level with the help of built-in straps. The Nvorliy knee brace is recommended for Arthritis, knee surgery, Meniscus Tear, ACL, MCL, LCL, Tendonitis and they help to reduce pain and swelling in the knee joint.
- Odor control treatment
- Lightweight and breathable material
- Strong build
- Reinforced stitching
- Specially designed for plus size people, who often struggle to find the product that will fit
- Since this brace is designed for large leg, people with normal size may not wear it with perfect fitting
EzyFit Knee Brace
EzyFit sports & exercise support products keep the people active and fit despite the injury, ache, or pain. The EzyFit knee braces are open patella type braces with dual stabilizers one on either side of your knee. The kneecap opening buttress has 4 dual coil twin stabilizers for strong support yet a full movement. To avoid skin irritation, the edges of the brace are stitched two times and there are non-slip silicone gel lines to stop migration during activities. You can regulate the amount of compression force by adjusting three strong and fully adjustable closures.
Neoprene is used to make these braces that provide fully flexible knee support and improve performance. Neoprene molds to your knee and retaining therapeutic heat.
- Affordable price
- Patella support
- Dual stabilizers for knee joint support
- Double-stitched edges and non-slip silicone lining
- Adjustable straps
- Straps aren’t durable
Mueller Sports Medicine Adjustable Hinged Knee Brace
Mueller Sports Medicine, Inc. has been one of the trusted leaders in sports medicine since 1995. The open patella type hinged knee braces from Mueller Sports Medicine are ideal for active individuals during sports and other physical activities and perform at their peak. These braces have self-adjusting criss-cross straps that provide maximum medial and lateral support. The metal hinges of the brace prevent the hyperextension of the knee. The kneecap is stabilized by the opening in front of it which has elevated edges and the brace has antimicrobial treatment for odor-free use. The brace is available in one universal size to fit over the left or right knee.
- Self-adjusting straps
- Metal hinges protect the knee from hyperextension
- Open patella design to stabilize the kneecap
- The brace is not latex-free and if you are allergic to latex, you can’t use the brace
Abco Tech Patella Knee Strap
Crafted from top quality neoprene and nylon, the Abco Tech knee strap is sturdy, lightweight, and soft. This strap is washable and provides air ventilation to reduce sweating when you wear it. The strap is fully adjustable and allows you to tweak the compression level and perfect fit. The contoured edge of the strap helps the strap to be in place during activities.
Abco Tech Knee Strap goes around your knee, right below your kneecap and employs constant pressure to the patellar tendon to alleviate pain and support the knee. The strap also rectifies misalignment and helps to heal the kneecap. It is not bulky and hardly restricts your movement.
- Sleek design and not bulky
- Adjustable velcro fasteners
- Stabilize the knee joints
- Breathable material
- No medial or lateral support of the joint
- Not treated for odor and germ control
Iron Bull Strength Knee Sleeves
This knee sleeve is made from premium quality 7mm SCR neoprene and 3-D design ensures contoured and anatomical fit with perfect compression force and warmth. To prevent migration during the workout, the upper limit of the sleeve features double silicone gel strips. The thick neoprene material limits the patella movement, increases blood flow, prevents injury, and boosts confidence.
Iron Bull Knee Sleeves are designed for gym workouts like CrossFit, weight lifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, etc. and they provide maximum support, compression, and stability during these activities.
- High-quality 7mm SCR neoprene over the regular one
- Anti-slip silicone gel lining
- Anatomical 3-D design
- Warm and perfect compression
- USPA and IPL approved knee sleeve
- Minimum structural support
Things to Consider Before Buying A Knee Brace
Whether your doctor has asked or you are just considering yourself about a knee brace, you have to be concerned about a few details.
Material: durability, ventilation, and moisture management depend on the material used to construct the knee brace. Basic knee braces use neoprene and advance knee braces use metal locks and gears. Neoprene is rather flexible but offers poor structural support.
Purpose: different types of sports and physical activities demand different types of support for your knee. Sports like basketball needs mobility where the gym exercise requires more firm support and hence you have to choose separate knee braces for those activities.
Fit/size: to improve performance in some activities, you may need firm compression to reinforce muscles and movements. But too tight a brace will cut off blood circulation. So, you have to find the right spot between these two factors.
Price: don’t forget to shop around and compare the price before you purchase.
Reviews: expert opinion and feedback from real customers are valuable resources when you are deciding to buy some products and a knee brace is not an exception. In order to make an educated guess, reviews will help you a lot.
Risks of Wearing Knee Brace
Despite the numerous advantages of knee braces, there are some risks involved. Such as
- When you are wearing the knee braces for the first time, you may feel disturbed as these braces are heavy and the spot may get hot where they are placed.
- Skin irritation is very common on the body part covered by the knee brace
- A knee brace alone can’t treat pain and other medical conditions effectively. Also, there are mixed results in the studies associated to determine their effectiveness.
- Some knee brace will allow very limited movement. Wearing them over a long period will cause joint stiffness
Frequently Ask Questions on Knee Brace
Is it OK to wear a knee brace all day?
In some situations, it is advised to wear the knee brace for several days. But wearing for weeks might not be beneficial.
How tight should a knee brace be?
It depends on your comfort level. If the brace is uncomfortably tight, then it may impede blood circulation.
Do knee braces really work?
Actually, these devices can’t cure or reverse the medical condition all by itself. The knee braces keep away the stress from the affected area of the knee and provide structural support to protect the knee from further injury. Thus, the knee gets the proper rest to heal the injury. So, they are very effective as supporting devices and doctors prescribe them for their patients.
Do you wear a knee brace over or under leggings?
If you have to go outside in cold weather or visit someplace with a strict dress code, you wear the knee brace underneath the garments.
Does a knee brace help bone on bone/ arthritis?
Some study suggests that knee braces can lessen the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and improve mobility of the patients. But some people still complain about them being not so helpful in arthritis.