When to Use a Knee Brace

Man Wearing Flexible Pink and Black Knee Brace.

Knee pain is frustrating and debilitating to live with, whether it’s the result of an injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. But when is a knee brace the right approach to managing and treating it?

There are four main types of braces: prophylactic braces, worn to protect against injury during strenuous activity like a contact sport; functional braces, which support injured knees; rehabilitative braces, which inhibit movement while knees heal from surgery or major injury; and unloader/offloader braces, for arthritic support. All four kinds serve one basic purpose: to support the knee by shifting weight in a way that keeps it off the most damaged area.

Many people who suffer from osteoarthritis — the wear and tear form of arthritis that develops with age — find pain relief and support from a knee brace. The damage to the ends of the bone causes misalignment which make it difficult to walk or put weight on the knee; a brace can help shift the weight and take pressure off. It offers support that can help legs feel sturdier. You can’t rely solely on a knee brace for arthritis support, however: stretching, strengthening exercises, and other physical therapy recommended by your doctor should be utilized.

If you have surgery on your knee, whether for muscular or skeletal reasons, you’ll most likely be given a brace to immobilize it while it heals. It’s important to follow instructions and keep it on as long as advised to prevent injury.

Pain in the kneecaps may be partially received by a flexible neoprene brace, which provides compression and support while allowing flexibility that lets you perform other exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, such as the quadricep. These are easily found in a pharmacy or sporting goods store. It’s important not to rely totally on the brace, though — losing excess weight, stretching properly before and after exercise, and strength training are all important steps in preventing and healing knee pain.

Regardless of the source, knee pain can cause people to rely heavily on pain medication, even over the counter — using a brace can help reduce reliance on them by relieving pressure and alleviating pain. Consult your doctor if you think your knee pain could benefit from a brace; they can recommend the appropriate kind.

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