The knee brace is quite an effective device to provide almost instantaneous relief from osteoarthritis pain. Osteoarthritis is one of the most debilitating conditions, the wear-and-tear form of the disease that affects 27 million people. The good news is the disease can be treated with the help of medication, physical therapy, exercise, and bracing.
Recent studies conducted on 49 patients have revealed that after six months of wearing knee braces for osteoarthritis, the subjects had less pain, stiffness, and disability. They also hoped to return to their previously active lifestyle and activity level. And most of them were able to restore their desired level of physical ability and mobility successfully. In another study, 31% and 35% of the participants reported depletion of over-the-counter drug and prescription drugs, respectively.
Although it requires more studies and clinical trials to get concrete evidence of knee braces’ effectiveness for arthritis patients, it is quite safe for arthritis patients to try the device since it’s non-invasive in nature. If worn consistently and properly, the knee brace will improve stability and arthritis conditions.
How Does an Osteoarthritis Knee Brace Work?
The knee brace is a kind of orthosis that fall under the KAFO or knee-ankle-foot orthoses group. The orthosis is a device that is applied externally to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. In general an orthosis functions by controlling, guiding, limiting, and/or immobilizing an extremity, joint or body segment for a particular reason. It also reduces weight-bearing forces and pressure over particular joints.
Primarily, knee braces can be classified into three major subcategories based on their functionality: Prophylactic, functional, and rehabilitation braces. In contact sports like football, prophylactic knee braces are helpful in resisting medial and lateral collateral ligament tears of the players. This type of brace utilizes knee hinges and it is often quite rigid. Rehabilitation braces, as the name suggests, are employed to the patients after injury or surgery to immobilize the leg and they are larger in size than other braces, because of functionality. Such a knee brace will limit the movement of the knee in both medial and lateral directions. These braces often have an adjustable range of motion stop potential for limiting flexion and extension which is required for ACL reconstruction.
Functional braces are crafted for people who have already experienced a knee injury and need support to recover from it, and this type of brace is prescribed in arthritis pain. The functional brace is designed to reduce the rotation of the knee, support stability, reduce the chance of hyperextension, and increase both agility and strength of the knee. Arthritis will cause the inflammation and stiffness of joints. In the case of osteoarthritis, the entire joint including the bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles is affected. Due to aging or other reasons, the tissue in the knee joint tends to wear away and the knee tends to move towards the inside or the outside of the leg, which further damages the bone. The misalignment and damage reinforce each other, resulting in a rather painful and difficult downward spiral and a loss of mobility.
This vicious cycle is broken by shifting the bones, muscles, and ligaments back into the original position, keeping the body in better alignment which is the function of a typical knee brace. A knee sleeve is a single piece knee brace of primary form and it provides compression, warmth, and support. Knee sleeves are prescribed for mild to moderate arthritis.
For severe arthritis, the unloader brace which is a semi-rigid knee brace made from molded plastic and foam is utilized. This brace utilizes steel struts on the sides to limit lateral knee movement and add stability. The unloader brace is custom made for individual patients and the patient has to get a prescription from medical practitioners to purchase it from stores specializing in orthotics. This type of brace is rather effective for arthritis pain and is expensive. The unloader knee brace shift pressure points away from arthritis affected portion of the knee joints and restricts lateral movements of the knee.
There are two different designs for unloading braces, push and pull. For push design, the brace applies a gentle pushing force via spring mechanisms to open up the damaged joint and relieve pain. And the pull-type unloader brace uses ratchet buckles on the front of the brace to apply a similar load and similar unloading of the knee joints.
In short, knee braces shift the bones into a different position, which results in releasing pressure on the joints and ligaments, improving circulation in the area, and relieving pain. They also reduce the chances of re-injury and boost the mobility of the knee joint.
Best Braces for Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression Knee Brace
Shock Doctor knee brace is hinged and it prevents medial and lateral instability, minor patella instability, meniscus injuries, minor ligament sprains, hypertension, arthritis, and heals these conditions. This hinged knee brace is composed of latex-free premium material and it incorporates high-quality stitching, flexible side stabilizers, and easy-grip tabs to fit properly.
Because of pre-curved anatomical design and four-way stretch Lycra mesh, the brace will allow you to move comfortably and fit accurately. The heavy-duty bilateral dual hinges provide a strong lift of the knee joint and compression support for soft tissues along with therapeutic heat for improved blood flow which aids in healing tendon and muscle.
Shock Doctor knee brace utilizes N-TEX vented neoprene and antimicrobial treatments which wicks away moisture, prevents odor and bacteria growth, increases ventilation, and provides ultimate comfort during the toughest workout and physical activities.
- Reinforced stitching around the hinges
- Latex-free premium quality neoprene
- Good ventilation
- Antimicrobial treatment
- Heavy-duty hives provide strong knee supports
- Suitable for various knee conditions other than arthritis
- Amount of velcro straps may not be adequate for some patients to fit the brace properly
Bauerfeind GenuTrain A3 Right Knee Support
Bauerfeind products are 100% German products that are manufactured with the highest standard of quality. GenuTrain A3 knee sleeve is applicable in osteoarthritis, irritated knee joint, complex knee pain, or misalignment of the kneecap. The brace is curved to conform to the natural shape of the knee using 3D fabric knitting and soft knitted fabric is moisture-wicking for extra comfort. The fabric is breathable and machine washable. It is also very stretchy and comfortable to wear.
The corrective guide and the anatomical design of the brace help to keep the knee joint mobile but stable and the viscoelastic massage pad provides soft stimulating rub to alleviate pain. In the lower part of the brace, there is an expansion zone which reduces compression for the patient who has sensitive circulation. GenuTrain A3 brace will help to accelerate the healing process by reducing inflammation and relieving pressure.
- Soft breathable fabric
- Machine washable
- Anatomical design for snug fitting
- Minimum restriction to movement
- Excellent quality
- Some patients may have allergic reaction
- If worn over clothing, the position has to be adjusted sometimes.
Ossur Formfit Pro Knee OA Sleeve
The Össur Formfit Pro Knee OA sleeve is a compressive knee sleeve which is quite lightweight and suitable for the early stage of knee osteoarthritis. This sleeve is also applicable to medial or lateral knee pain, early or mild unicompartmental osteoarthritis of the knee and symptomatic, unicompartmental meniscus degeneration due to unloading and compression.
Formfit Pro knee sleeve utilizes dynamic, 3-D MotionTech™ knit provides medical-grade compression ranging from 20-30 mmHg which reduces swelling and lightweight CoolVent™ knit in the popliteal area adds breathability and comfort. The buffering capacity of Össur Formfit Pro yarns is far superior in wicking moisture to keep the skin dry and cool. To secure the sleeve comfortably in place, a patented FoldLock™ system is incorporated.
The dynamic force strap (DFS) system employs a counteracting force to reinforce support. The sleeve also incorporates a hinge made from lightweight, flexible EVA material to keep the sleeve in shape. Össur Formfit Pro Knee sleeve is available in 5 standards and 3 comfort sizes.
- The fabric is of premium quality and has excellent moisture-wicking ability.
- Medical grade compressive force
- Breathable fabric
- Special knitting in the popliteal area for extra ventilation and comfort
- Patented FoldLock system for snug fitting
- Since it’s a knee sleeve, knee support is moderate
- It can be difficult to wear the sleeve
McDavid Bio-Logix Multi-Sport Sleeve
McDavid Bio-Logix sleeve is a highly engineered semi-rigid knee brace along with a compressive knee sleeve. To provide the comfort of a custom made brace, the Bio-Logix brace adopts a semi-rigid support structure that allows self-adaptive Flex-Fit. The Flex-Fit pads on the thigh and shin areas are washable, moisture-wicking, and come with air channels for breathability. The dual bilateral geared hinges made from aluminum allow natural movement and fluid motion with adequate support.
Bio-Logix knee brace strategically combines rigid and soft materials employing biomechanics to create a comfortable supporting structure. The compressive sleeve under the brace is four-way stretchable which provides compression over the affected knee joint. The anatomically designed McDavid Bio-Logix knee brace can be used with or without this sleeve and an adjustable strap system allows for exceptional adjustment range. The brace is suggested for major joint instabilities, post-surgical joint protection, and therapeutic recovery.
- Cutting edge engineering and advanced materials are adopted for the brace
- Geared hinged support
- Anatomically designed using biomechanics for natural mobility with enough structural support
- Self-adaptive Flex-Fit pads are washable, breathable and moisture-wicking
- Adjustable straps for a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
- The compression sleeve can be too tight for some users.
Nvorliy Plus Size Knee Brace
It can be rather difficult to find the perfect size of the knee brace for the people with large legs when you are not ordering custom made braces. Nvorliy Knee brace is designed for the people who have difficulties to find the proper knee brace because of the large-sized legs. Also, this brace is pretty heavy-duty to support overweight patients. Nvorliy knee brace has a large EVA knee pad that absorbs shock and relieves patella pressure and there are six flexible springs for strong and effective support.
This knee brace utilizes antibacterial neoprene and fine-textured nylon and spandex fabric with reinforced double stitching. To adjust the level of compression there are two velcro straps at the top and bottom of the brace. Nvorliy knee brace is recommended for inflammation, swelling, arthritis, knee surgery, meniscus Tear, ACL, MCL, LCL, tendonitis, etc. and physical activities like cycling and running.
- Plus size knee brace
- Tough and durable
- Shock-absorbing EVA knee pad
- Good ventilation and moisture control
- Odor control treatment
- To find the correct size using size chart can be difficult sometimes
DonJoy OA (Osteoarthritis) Reaction Web Knee Support Brace
This brace is designed for obsessed people who require additional knee support and it is ideal for activities like jogging, hiking, and non-contact sports. DonJoy Reaction Web knee brace incorporates patented four-way, wraparound silicone web technology, and such web design provides a custom fit for nearly any leg size. The brace is quite low profile and can be worn under clothing without slipping and displacing.
You will find two types of reaction web brace, medial left, and medial right brace where the hinge of the brace is placed outside and inside of your leg respectively. You have to choose them based on the area of the knee that is affected by arthritis pain. Due to the universal fit, the brace will fit both of your left and right leg. DonJoy Reaction Web knee brace also includes a knee sleeve composed of 85% nylon and 15% spandex. This brace is very comfortable to wear as it has large openings and non-slip silicone webbing cup effects which unload the knee joint comfortably.
- Super comfortable due to large open areas
- Non-slip silicone webbing
- Can be worn under clothing
- Additional knee sleeve
- The brace will fit a wide range of different size legs
- Not durable
Athledict hinged knee brace
Due to some negative customer feedback, the Athledict hinged knee brace was completely redesigned. The newly designed brace adopts a reversed open patella design and customized open patella space ensuring comfort at the back of the knee. The hinges have extra cushioning to avoid irritation while you wear the brace all day long. This brace provides superior support and the front opening allows the user to wear the brace easily. Also, due to the front opening, there is no irritation or injury on the back of the knee after prolonged use.
Athledict knee brace has removable hinges that are meticulously designed and tested. This is one of the best dynamic hinges available. The brace is durable yet lightweight and low profile. You can use this knee brace for sports Injuries Like MCL, ACL, PCL, meniscus tear, strains, sprains, or conditions like bone on bone, arthritis, patellar tendonitis, and others. During the physical activities, the knee brace doesn’t slide down because of x-straps and other mechanisms.
- Lifetime warranty
- Meticulously designed and tested
- Best dynamic hinges
- Durable and lightweight. There is no irritation or uneasiness even after all day long use
- Adjustable x-straps prevents slip off.
- Hinge pockets that keep the hinge in place are less durable.
NEENCA Medical Grade Knee Brace Compression Sleeve
NEENCA knee sleeve is a medical-grade device for meniscus tear, arthritis, ACL, joint pain relief, and recovery from sports injuries. The sleeve is also extensively used in sports such as weightlifting, basketball, running, jogging, volleyball, CrossFit, gym, tennis, hiking, and more. NEENCA knee sleeve incorporates the 3D woven structure, high precision 3D cutting technology of knitting, and high elastic compression fabric which reduce the pressure on the knee joints and relieve pain. The fabric is also lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking, and dries up quickly.
Due to ergonomic design, the knee sleeve will fit perfectly around the knee joint. It has an anatomically designed patella gel pads which surround the knee cap and absorbs shock to prevent injuries. Metal spring stabilizers on both sides of the knee joint strengthen knee support and stabilize the joint. The knee sleeve keeps your knee warm and knee joints lubricated by dispersing pressure.
- Ergonomic design
- Hi-tech weaving structure
- Firm support
- High elastic material
- Breathable and moisture-wicking fabric
- It’s a knee sleeve and the support might be inadequate for severe arthritis pain.
TechWare Pro Knee Brace
TechWare Pro is a customer-oriented manufacturer and always emphasizes upgrading the design, construction, and material of the knee brace to address the shortcoming of existing products. The Pro knee braces come in 4 different sizes: medium, large, x-large, and xx-large available for men, women, and kids. The open patella design provides support and compression around the kneecap and tendons. The knee brace has 4 spring stabilizer coils that provide additional support, protection, stability, and flexibility for the kneecap.
TechWare Pro knee brace incorporates three bidirectional adjustable hook and loop straps compress evenly and uniformly. It has non-slip silicone grip bead linings that keep the brace in place during physical activities. Gel pads on the kneecap area help with inflammation and swelling. This knee brace is composed of lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable neoprene and it is good for arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
- Lightweight and low profile knee brace without the bulk
- Non-slip silicone grip lining to prevent displacement
- Spring stabilizers
- Bidirectional straps provide uniform compression
- Easy to wear
- As it is made of neoprene, structural support may not be enough for acute arthritis
DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee Brace
DonJoy is well known for its industry-leading gears and products for support and protection from lateral forces that occur in everyday sport and activity. The Donjoy Bionic knee brace incorporates wrap-around design, which allows for quick and easy access to the brace without removing shoes. Because of DonJoy’s signature bilateral polycentric hinges, the bionic knee brace prevents hyperextension and knee instability. The unique hex-shaped patella opening of the brace helps to stabilize and support kneecap while articulating more freely as the knee goes through flexion and extension.
DonJoy Performance Bionic Knee brace utilizes breathable and comfortable neoprene, and the anti-migration technology prevents dislocation of the brace when you are wearing it. Asymmetrical hemlines and stretch webbing closure systems deliver a precision fit.
- Excellent patella support
- Easy to wear
- The advanced hinge system prevents hyperextension and knee instability.
- Adequate ventilation and moisture management
- Velcro straps may get caught on the clothing
Orthomen Unloader Knee Brace
Orthomen Unloader knee brace is recommended for arthritis pain, meniscal cartilage derangement, mild to severe unicompartmental osteoarthritis, unicompartmental knee conditions requiring load reduction, such as articular cartilage defect repair, and non-contact physical activities. This unloading knee brace weighs very little, and it’s quite easy to put it on because of quick-release buckles. With the help of three points of leverage, the brace provides lateral unloading of arthritis affected knee joint. Condyle pads increase comfort and stability.
Orthomen Unloader knee brace features suspension wrap for optimal fixation. There is also provision for flexion/extension stops for a range of motion control. To prevent sliding down, silicone gripped liners and strap pads are utilized. Straps length can be adjusted as per requirement.
- Unique varus/valgus angle adjustment option
- Silicone gripped liners to stop migration
- Quick-release buckles to easily wear the brace
- Hinged knee brace for maximum support and unloading of the knee joint
- Condyle pads and strap pads add extra comfort
Things to Consider Before Buying A Knee Brace for Osteoarthritis
To obtain the best results, you should consult with health professionals before purchasing a knee brace. Several knee components like medial (on the inside of the knee joint), lateral (on the outside of the knee joint), patellofemoral (behind the kneecap) are considered before selecting the appropriate device. The knee brace is prescribed for unicompartmental knee damage where one knee compartment has cartilage loss and Osteoarthritis most commonly develops in the medial component.
However, there are some general issues which should be considered as well before purchase:
Although neoprene is a very popular choice of material for knee brace and knee sleeve, plastic, metal, and fabric are also used for this purpose. Whatever the material is, make sure that the brace has good ventilation, and moisture is wicked away for comfort and to avoid skin irritation. At the same time, the brace should be strong enough to support the knee joint.
There are different types of knee braces available in the market. But all of them are not suitable to handle the osteoarthritis condition. For this particular condition, unloader type hinged knee braces are advisable. Knee sleeves work for mild arthritis sometimes.
In order to function the knee brace properly, it must snug fit around your knee. If it’s too lose the unloading will not work and if it’s too tight it might interrupt the blood circulation. So, proper size is crucial for a knee brace to provide arthritis pain relief. For over the counter knee braces, there are size charts included determining the exact size suitable for the patient. Custom made knee braces are made by taking the exact measurements of the patient.
When you are intended to purchase over the counter knee brace or sleeve, authentic customers’ reviews will be a great help to select the right device for you.
Frequently Ask Questions on Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Do knee braces work for osteoarthritis?
Some studies suggest that knee braces can reduce symptoms and improve mobility in people who have knee osteoarthritis. It’s a non-invasive method of treatment, which helps to cut pain medication intake. But prolonged use of the brace weakens the muscles around the joint.
Is it OK to wear a knee brace all day?
There is no rigorous time limit on wearing a knee brace. The brace should be worn during the workout and other physical activities. When you are resting or having physical therapy, you should take the brace off.
Are knee compression sleeves good for arthritis?
For mild to moderate arthritis, knee sleeves can relieve pain. But an unloader knee brace with hinge support is recommended in osteoarthritis.
What exercise is good for osteoarthritis in the knee?
There are several exercises that may be beneficial in arthritis. Hamstring stretch, half squats, one leg dip, leg stretch, etc. are some exercises recommended for this condition.
In the end, one thing should be mentioned that the knee brace is not only for elderly people. Many NFL players use knee braces who have injuries.