Suffering any kind of pain can prevent you from exercising your daily activities or stay focused on what you are doing. Knee pain, in particular, can be quite annoying and may hinder your walking, doing basic activities or sports exercises. If not treated, knee pain can result in knee injuries that require serious medical treatment.
Knee braces are one possible solution to knee pain. Many doctors recommend them as structural support and pain relief, while some do not see them as so beneficial. While the scientific findings are not conclusive, the feedback given by many users is quite positive. Nevertheless, it is recommended to consult your doctor prior to wearing a knee brace as they will be able to recommend which type will be the most suitable for you.
You can buy knee braces online on our site but how do you know which one to pick? The guide below will help you to differentiate between the various kinds of knee braces and give you information about how they can help you and what are some of the risks associated with wearing a knee brace.
What are the different kinds of knee braces?
There are different types of knee braces and each of them is used for different reasons. Make sure that you have selected the right one for you so that it can actually help you instead of making things worse. Depending on the reason why you wear knee braces – for structural support or for pain relief, there are four different types.
Three of them are worn in order to provide structural support:
- Functional braces. This type of braces is primarily used after the knee has been injured to provide some additional stability. They are often used by athletes who have suffered a major injury that is already healed.
- Prophylactic braces. This type was specifically designed to protect the knee during contact sports such as football, hockey or basketball. Athletes often wear them in order to protect their knees from injuries.
- Rehabilitative braces. These braces are designed to limit the movement of the knee after a major injury or surgery. They are worn weeks afterward to help the knee heal. They limit side-to-side and up-and-down movement but still allow some movement of the knee.
One type of knee braces is specifically designed to relieve pain:
- Unloader braces. The aim of these braces is to relieve pain for people who suffer from arthritis in the inner knee. They are designed in such a way as to shift or unload the weight from the affected area to a stronger area. Unloader braces are made of molded plastic, foam and steel struts and are personally made for the specific user. They limit side movement and exercise three points of pressure on the thigh bone thus forcing the knee to bend in a way which causes no pain.
Another product popular on the market is also the knee sleeves. While they are not technically braces, they serve a similar purpose – to support the knee. They work by creating compression around the knee joint which limits swelling and reduces pain.
How to get a knee brace?
Before you decide to purchase a knee brace, make sure to consult your doctor. They will tell whether you need to wear one and recommend the best type for your specific situation. Your doctor can also direct you from where you can buy the knee brace that you need.
As a whole, knee braces and supports can be found in pharmacies or medical supply stores. You can also purchase them online or directly from the manufacturer. More complicated and expensive ones are offered in specialized stores. Keep in mind that the higher price does not guarantee better quality.
Some knee braces and supports may be covered by your medical insurance, so make sure to check if this is the case and avail of the option.
Remember that it is a bad idea to start wearing a knee brace without your doctor’s approval. You may choose the wrong type or your knee injury might not be treatable with such a support at all. Wearing a knee brace on your own responsibility can cause a risk to your knee and overall health. You may cause more damage than good, so always follow your doctor’s recommendations.
How and when to use a knee brace?
Knee braces should be worn only according to the recommendations of your doctor. Different types are used in different ways. Some braces are worn all the time, while others need to be put only when you are doing exercise or there is some extra loading of the knee as a result of sport or work activity.
How long to wear the knee brace also depends on the type that you were prescribed by your doctor. If it is an unloader brace, you need to wear it all the time so that it can help you with the pain you feel. If you wear rehabilitative braces as a result of significant injury or operation, you will need to keep them on for several weeks. The exact period will be determined by your doctor.
In order for the knee braces to have а positive effect on your health, they need to be a perfect fit. You can generally get two types of knee braces – ready-made and custom-made.
- Ready-made knee braces come in several sizes and some of them allow you to adjust the pressure you apply to your knees. You can find a knee brace that fits you well and start wearing it immediately.
- Custom-made knee braces take time to be prepared and you may have to wait a few weeks before getting them. They are made by orthotists, who will take your exact measures and offer you a brace that is a perfect fit. In order to do that, they will examine your knee and take several measurements in order to determine the right size for you. The orthotist will ask you a few questions about the history of your knee pain or injury, why you need braces for, have you tried braces before and which types you found more comfortable. They will explain the difference between ready-made and custom-made knee braces and also have you try a few knee braces on in order to determine, which is the best for you.
No matter if you go for custom-made or ready-made knee braces, make sure that they are always correctly positioned. Otherwise, they can do more harm than good.
What are some risks associated with wearing a knee brace?
All the companies that sell knee braces claim that their product is the best on the market and list their benefits. As studies about the advantages of knee braces are inconclusive, it is wise to keep in mind that there are also certain risks associated with wearing them. The main ones include:
- Discomfort – when you start wearing a knee brace you may experience certain discomfort even if the brace is a perfect fit. You may feel that it is heavy, hot or bulky at first but you should gradually get used to it.
- Skin irritation or swelling – your skin may get red and irritated under the knee brace. This can be a result of poor fit or an allergic reaction to the brace material. Consult a doctor if the irritation continues. Some people may also get swelling around the joint.
- Lack of benefit – some people start feeling relief almost immediately, while others report no benefit of wearing knee braces at all. Be prepared that the positive results of wearing knee braces might be limited or none for you.
In any of the cases above it is a good idea to consult the doctor who has prescribed you the knee braces. They can offer advice that limits or eliminates discomfort and some other negative effects of the braces. If you have opted out for ready-made knee braces, the solution for you might be to try some custom-made ones and see if they offer better results for you.
Always make sure that the knee brace is a perfect fit and that it is properly positioned. Poor positioning or mismatch of the size are the most common factors causing discomfort and lack of benefit.
How do knee braces help?
Depending on the type of knee braces that you choose, you can expect more knee support and pain relief. Quite often knee braces are used to prevent injuries, especially for athletes. A football player, for example, puts extra pressure on the knees as a result of the sharp movements and a knee brace can protect the knees from moving bones and ligaments in an unnatural way.
Knee braces can help you improve your posture. By relieving the pain in your knees, you will be able to stand and walk properly.
Knee braces are useful when you make warm-up exercises prior to active sports activities and can help you with your walking exercise.
Knee braces help in case you suffer from arthritis or other structural knee problems.
Is it ok to exercise while wearing a knee brace?
A knee brace is normally no excuse for skipping exercise. On the contrary, moderate exercise and stretching is a good way to keep your muscles toned and to strengthen them which results in a better knee support. The only time you need to avoid exercise is if you are prescribed complete rest by your physician.
Do not forget that stretching is necessary prior to any exercise and even afterward. It helps keep your joints strong and in good health.
Some professional athletes even choose to wear knee braces that can support their knees while exercising.
Once you have found the right knee brace for you and it passes you perfectly, you will start feeling comfortable with it and stop noticing that you are wearing one. Besides, knee braces won’t prevent you from wearing any other gear you might need for your exercise.
How to care for knee braces?
Proper care is of paramount importance for knee braces. Like any other product, they get dirty and worn out with time. Make sure to wash them with soap and water as this is good for the fabric they are made of. In case there are uncovered metal parts, try to cover them to prevent injuring yourself or someone else.
As a whole, if you notice that your knee braces start wearing out do consider buying new ones. Worn out braces do not have the same benefits and can even be dangerous. Investing in more durable materials might be a clever though more expensive idea, especially if you expect to wear the braces much longer.
The overall conclusion is that knee braces can help you by offering better support for your knees and reducing the pain you may feel as a result of arthritis, injury or surgery. It is, however, very important to maintain a healthier lifestyle as well. Good strength and flexibility of your muscles are important to prevent injuries and to facilitate the recovery after an injury. Weight also plays a significant factor as it puts more pressure on your knees and increases the risk.
Discuss the issues with your doctor in order to get the best regime of exercise suitable for you and to determine whether you need to wear knee braces or not.
If you want to improve your joint function, reduce the pain and even delay surgery, you can browse our offers for painless knee support braces and check how they can help you live a healthier life.
Feel free to check out our knee braces. Hopefully they will help you with your goals!