When you have arthritis in your knee, you will need to consider how to support it.
This can seem straightforward. You look for a brace that removes pressure and helps you to move around. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, the type of brace can be medically indicated. So, your doctor or nurse may be able to offer guidance with the right one for you. Although, if you are choosing a brace or strap yourself, it can be trickier. There are many types available online and in stores. So how do you choose the right knee brace for you?
Here is a simple guide to the different types of braces for knees that you can find online. Along with some tips on what to look for when choosing one.
How do braces help with arthritis?
You may be wondering, however, how a brace can help with arthritic discomfort? Or even the associated swelling.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has found mixed results. On the one hand, braces for arthritic knees can help with compression and support the soft tissues. While also helping to reduce inflammation. They can help patients with arthritis to feel more comfortable when exercising too. So, braces seem beneficial all around. Irrespective of whether the arthritis is rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.
As is the way, a knee brace may not be suited for all kinds of arthritis. If you have excessive swelling and discomfort, you may need a walking aid to help you.
Different kinds of braces for knees
As mentioned before, there is a vast range of knee braces online. So, which one would be best suited to help with your arthritis and associated symptoms?
The most well-known type used in medicine is the knee sleeve. It is wrapped around the knee and has no hinges or joints. It acts as a compression wrap. It can be beneficial if you are experiencing a flare with your arthritis and need support. Especially with swelling and soft tissue compression.
It can be worn every day but take care not to wrap it too tight. As this can cut off blood flow and put pressure on varicose veins. It is also light enough to wear when you are out walking or at an exercise group. They are also the most readily available in pharmacies, making them more affordable.
Functional Knee Brace
This type of knee brace is a step up from a sleeve. It usually has multiple adjustable straps. Which usually extend above and below the knee cap.
It is designed to provide additional stability to the knee. Usually when you are undertaking an exercise to strengthen the surrounding muscles. As such, it is rarely advisable to wear this brace type throughout the entire day. Instead, wear it when attending physiotherapy. Or when doing yoga in your home.
It does not cause compression, so may be suitable for more uncomfortable arthritis. Especially if there is excessive swelling. As before with the knee sleeve, be sure that the straps are not too tight.
One company that offers braces type suited for arthritis in the knee is Podobrace. Which you can easily find online.
Unloader knee brace
An unloader knee brace is specifically designed to help treat arthritis of the knee. Physically, these braces look like functional knee braces. Although they have more padding to support the back of the knee.
As the knee has to support weight, this brace helps to do so. By shifting the weight of the body away from one part of the knee. So, in comparison to the other braces, this one is the most specialized, and is best for people who have extreme stress on their knees caused by arthritis.
However, when compared to the others on this list, this brace is the most expensive. They are intended for use during physical activity. If your arthritis is preventing you from moving, then you may be able to wear them in your home. To help you with daily activities like walking and making the bed etc.
Back to the smaller design, patellofemoral braces are more targeted in their design. In fact, they can look like a knee protector worn when roller-skating.
They are placed over the knee and held in place with straps. They are designed to manage knee joint instability. So, if you have arthritis that is causing your knees to slip out of joint, this may be suitable. They add support and compression around the knee joint. To prevent the knee from slipping, they can be tightened. They are great for adding support when you are exercising, but as before, you cannot wear them all day. Unless your doctor or physiotherapist advises you too, that is. If you wear a patellofemoral brace daily, then you will need to avoid tightness. As this can cause blood flow issues and worsen varicose veins.
Wearing a knee brace
Remember, if you have arthritis, you should seek out the help of your doctor or nurse practitioner. They will be able to advise you on the most suitable knee brace type to help you in your daily life.
You will need to wear most of the braces listed here when you are exercising. Avoid wearing them in bed. As this can heighten the chance of blood clots. While also making varicose veins worse. Never wear a knee brace for longer than advised and always wear it on its loosest setting.