Find the Perfect Knee Brace: Ultimate Support Guide

Understanding Knee Support: How to Choose the Perfect Brace for Your Injury

When Should I Consider Using Knee Support?

First and foremost, knee supports are mainly used to relieve pressure on the knee and to protect the joint itself. The knees are the joints that face some of the most pressure that we put on our bodies. 

Each step that we take, the force on our kneecaps is equivalent to one and a half times our body weight. For example, each step that a 200-pound individual takes exerts 300 pounds worth of force on their knees. 

This means that our knees can get pretty beat up - and this doesn’t even count for external factors! Whether from a high-impact sports injury, constant strain from work, or day-to-day wear and tear on the kneecap, a knee support can be utilized to provide comfort and stability. 

So, What’s the Best Knee Brace?

Fortunately, there’s no definitive answer to that question. Here’s why that’s a good thing:

Each type of knee brace is made differently to ensure that you’re getting the best support that you can. They are made with varying levels of strength and protection in order to ensure the best fit and treatment. For example, for a light injury, or just preventative support, a knee sleeve might be the best option to allow for . However, post-surgery, the knee’s range of motion will need to be extremely controlled, making a heavier-duty, hinged knee brace the right call. 

Keep reading to find out which type of knee brace is best for you!

Sleek Support: Embrace Comfort with a Knee Sleeve

The wonder of the knee sleeve lies in its simplicity. The thin design allows you to slip it on and off with ease - you can even wear it under pants for discrete support throughout the day! The knee sleeve’s lightness make it the ideal knee support for those suffering from mild sprains, minor instability, osteoarthritis, and other mild conditions. 

Thanks to the knee sleeve’s thin and flexible material, it is ideal for everyone! This sleeve will provide support for walking, running, hiking, and even athletes who want to remain active in their sport. 

Knee sleeves work mainly through providing compression to the area. Following an injury or strain, the body will naturally swell the joint in order to protect itself. Applying compression to a swollen area will increase blood flow - this reduces inflammation and allows for a sprain or tear to begin its healing process, all while decreasing the level of pain. 

In conclusion, the versatility and effectiveness of the knee sleeve stem from its simple yet innovative design. Its discreet and lightweight nature makes it an ideal choice for individuals managing various mild knee conditions. By providing targeted compression, this sleeve facilitates healing, reduces inflammation, and supports a wide range of activities, ensuring comfort and mobility.

Wraparound Knee Supports

These two options provide a little bit more support than the knee sleeve does, but still allow for a wide range of activities - making them the ideal option for athletes and anyone who wants to remain active. Their simple designs allow for easy application and removal in any circumstances, giving them the versatility that active lifestyles need. 

The knee strap works through its specially formed pad, which slips right under the kneecap in order to take the pressure off of the joint, making it ideal for any activity that puts stress on the knee joint - running, cycling, soccer, and gymnastics - just to name a few. Athletes can ensure that their joints are protected with this non-invasive knee strap.

The wraparound brace’s main feature is its ease of application. If your knee is already in pain, why put it through more trying to squeeze a brace on? Using a front-closure process, this brace literally wraps around the knee, allowing for painless application. The wraparound brace is tailored to plus sized patients because it does not have to be slid on. Rather, individuals place it where they want and wrap around the front of the knee without trying to slide and wriggle the brace on.

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Tailored Knee Injury Recovery with Hinged ROM Braces

The main appeal of the Hinged ROM Knee Brace is its post-surgical use. This brace is most useful for those recovering from any patellar surgery. After surgery, it is crucial to protect your kneecap in order to ensure proper healing and alignment. In addition to post surgery relief, this brace can also provide relief from torn meniscus, ACL, PCL, MCL injury, and hyperextension. 

One of the biggest features of this brace are its hinges. The inclusion of range of motion (ROM) hinges in this sleeve makes it an optimal choice for preemptive pain management and allowing for optimal recovery post-injury or knee surgery. Positioned on both sides of the knee, these hinges enhance stability and give you the flexibility to have specific control over your knee's range of motion. 

Such precise control over knee movement allows for a gradual and secure rehabilitation process. Depending on the specifics of your injury and recovery trajectory, whether necessitating restriction of knee flexion or extension, this adaptable ROM brace accommodates both scenarios seamlessly!

Relieve Pressure with Knee Unloader / Offloader Braces

An unloader (sometimes referred to as offloader) knee brace is designed to offload pressure from the affected compartment of the knee. The knee has three different compartments, each providing different support. One or more of these compartments can become arthritic from a condition called osteoarthritis

This type of brace is specifically designed to treat bone-on-bone knee pain, which is caused by osteoarthritis.

Bone-on-bone knee pain occurs when the cartilage in the knee joint breaks down. After enough destruction, the joint’s ability to reduce friction and absorb shock is greatly reduced, leading to the bones absorbing the impacts placed upon the joint instead of the cartilage. This causes great amounts of pain. 

Luckily, the Osteoarthritis Unloader Knee Brace can relieve this pain. It is the best choice for those suffering not only from osteoarthritis, but also any other unicompartmental knee conditions requiring load reduction, such as articular cartilage defect repair, avascular necrosis, or tibial plateau fracture. In short, the unloader knee brace is the best type for pain relief.

Exploring the Inner Mechanisms of Knee Braces

There are a few more factors to consider when deciding which brace is best for you. Braces can feature an open patella, closed patella, open popliteal (back of knee), or closed popliteal. Also, braces can have a buttress. Breaking down and understanding each of these components of the knee brace will help to narrow down the options to pick the best knee brace for you!

Open vs. Closed Knee Braces: What’s Right for Me?

All knee braces have either an open patella (kneecap) or a closed one, each providing different benefits. Depending on your symptoms and pain level, you may opt for one or the other. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right one:

Open Patella Brace Benefits

Braces with an open patella (hole where the kneecap is) and open popliteal (back of knee) give the kneecap plenty of support while allowing for the relief of knee pressure. 

Open-patella braces provide knee pressure relief while offering additional support for the knee cap during movement and tracking. So, open-patella braces are best for those recovering from knee surgery because of their increased flexibility and support. 

When to Use a Closed Knee Brace

Braces with a closed patella and popliteal (no hole where the kneecap and back of kneecap are), however, give increased pressure to the joint, matching the amount of pressure given to the knee by the rest of the brace. Those who are suffering from swelling, pain, and inflammation in the knee should opt for closed knee support. 

The closed patella will put additional pressure on the area, as well as provide warmth. Note: Users of the closed knee support may notice an increase in sweating in the area - but this is what provides healing! This means that the body is increasing blood flow to the area, thus reducing swelling.

What Is a Buttress and What Does It Do?

A buttress is a pad that helps provide stability, support, and patella realignment.

There are five different kinds of buttresses, each providing different levels of support for different needs:

  • No buttress: No buttress provides the most amount of flexibility, making it best for post-surgery.
  • O-Shaped / Full Buttress: Encircles your kneecap, preventing it from shifting out of place or moving from side to side.
  • U-shaped buttress: Designed in the shape of a horseshoe, this support holds your kneecap in place, ensuring you avoid patellar dislocation, while still allowing for vertical movement.
  • C-Shaped: Also known as half or J-Shaped buttresses provide support for medial or lateral kneecap instability and interchangeable side stabilization.

Understanding the Role of Stays in Knee Braces

A stay in a knee brace is the bendable part that provides the knee with compression and support. Made of metal or plastic, the stays are designed to maintain proper alignment, prevent excessive movement, and offer additional reinforcement to the joint. The most common types of stays are spiral and straight stays, each providing a different benefit.

Knee braces with spiral stays are best for those looking to maintain flexibility. Strategically sewn into the Patella Stabilizing Knee Brace, the spiral stays provide flexible stability for the kneecap, keeping it in position while still allowing you to bend so you can comfortably perform daily activities. Spiral stays are best suited for recovering from a knee injury. 

Straight stays, on the other hand, are designed for more direct, linear support along the length of the knee joint. Offering more rigid stability, straight stays can restrict certain movements or prevent hyperextension. Straight stays in a knee brace are best for those recovering from surgery, but are also ideal for addressing specific alignment issues or providing focused support to targeted areas of the knee.

What Does a Hinge Do in a Knee Brace?

The hinge plays a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness of the knee brace by facilitating controlled movement, providing stability and support, and promoting optimal alignment of the knee joint. The hinge allows controlled movement of the knee joint, typically limiting both bending and straightening to a certain range. This helps prevent excessive or harmful movements while still allowing for natural, functional movement.

By providing a stable pivot point, the hinge helps stabilize the knee joint, reducing the risk of excessive side-to-side or rotational movements that could lead to injury or worsening existing knee issues.

The Hinged ROM Knee Brace, as mentioned earlier in the article, provides the ability to have specific control of how far the knee joint can bend. It accomplishes this through the use of hinges and flexion adjustment pins on either side, giving you ultimate control over your recovery. 

Knee Support FAQs

How Many Hours a Day Should I Wear a Knee Brace?

It is most often recommended that you wear a knee brace for only two to four hours per day, but that varies on a case-by-case basis. If you’re unsure, check with your doctor or orthopedic specialist.

Can I Wear a Knee Sleeve Under a Knee Brace?

Yes, you can wear a knee sleeve under a knee brace - it’s even recommended that you do so! The inclusion of a sleeve under a brace provides increased compression, added support, and improved comfort. 

When can I Stop Wearing the Knee Brace?

You can officially stop wearing a knee brace once you’ve returned to full functionality within the joint - but keep in mind, it can sometimes take one to two years for your knee to return to baseline health. 

How Should a Knee Brace Fit? 

A brace should be snug - but not too tight. It should feel secure and supportive without cutting off circulation or causing discomfort. It should also remain in place, refraining from sliding or bunching up.

An easy test you can do to determine if your knee brace fits is the two finger test: Put on the brace and fasten the straps. Next, slide two fingers under a strap - if you can't fit two fingers under the strap, it may be too tight. If you can fit two fingers easily, and possibly a third, it may be too loose.

Deciding on the Right Knee Brace: Which Knee Brace Do I Choose?

Well, that answer is up to you and your specific needs! Using the information in this article, you can be assured that you now have the knowledge and confidence when it comes to understanding the ins-and-outs of knee braces to shop the collection of knee braces in order to find the best fit for you!

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