What Type of Knee Brace Do I Need?
So you're ready to take the next step and purchase a knee brace that will help relieve your pain and pressure, but you're not sure which one to buy. No worries! We've got you covered. From hinged support to compression and prevention, we break down everything you need to know to help you find the right knee brace for you.
How Do Knee Braces Work?
Each knee brace is different, but they all work to promote some form of compression and prevention. The general purpose of the braces is to provide some form of support for your knee. This can be in the form of hinged support, cushioning, or immobilization.
The knee brace you wear can make a huge difference when you need to perform a certain task, making it easier to walk, exercise, and do things that require bending or kneeling.
What Are the Most Common Types of Knee Braces?
There are many different types of knee braces with a variety of purposes; from hinged supports to compression sleeves. Whatever the purpose, you will want to make sure that you pick a knee brace that fits your needs so you don't have any restrictions or difficulties during your day-to-day activities.
Compression Knee Sleeve
Compression support sleeves are intended for mild or intermittent knee pain and minor injuries, mainly overuse issues. This type of brace is meant to offer localized pressure to the knee in order to reduce pain and swelling. Thanks to the localized warmth provided to the area, your knee will heal faster so you can take less time off from activity. They can also reduce the amount of discomfort that you feel in your joints while helping improve balance and muscle function.
Knee sleeves typically come in three different thicknesses: light, medium, and heavy. As a general rule of thumb, heavier sleeves offer more support than lighter ones.
Hinged Knee Brace
Hinged knee braces are meant to offer moderate to heavy-duty levels of knee stability and support. These braces stabilize the patella by limiting motion in the joint. Most of our hinged knee supports are designed to wrap around your leg, making the application and removal process a breeze and allowing you to customize the fit for optimal comfort and protection.
Hinged-style braces can be worn during daily activities and exercise so you can focus on whatever you are doing without the fear of knee buckling, patellar instability, subluxation, or dislocation. These are popular among plus-size women and men in need of medial and lateral kneecap stabilization. They are also often used by athletes who want to keep a healthy range of motion in their knee joint without sacrificing performance and mobility.
Patella Band (Knee Strap)
Knee straps are most often used by active individuals to help ease runner's knee pain or patellar tendonitis (jumper's knee). These are designed to apply a comfortable, effective compression on the patellar tendon to help alleviate knee pain. They are quick and easy to apply and discreet for a low-profile look. Patella bands are intended to be worn during daily activities, exercise, and sports.
Open-Patella Knee Brace
You have probably noticed that some knee braces have an opening over the kneecap while others are solid. Braces with an open patella can relieve extra pressure on your sore knee and provide kneecap tracking assistance. A closed-patella brace offers compression, improving blood flow, which prevents swelling when you want to push harder.
Open-Popliteal Knee Brace
Located at the back of your knee, the popliteal is where the hamstring muscles attach. An open-popliteal brace has a small opening behind the knee, which improves breathability during exercise. A closed-popliteal brace has no opening on the back of the knee, keeping your leg warm. The heat insulates your joints, keeping them warm and lubricated. When your joints are properly warmed and lubricated, they can safely stretch and function.
Knee Support with Stays
Many knee braces work by supporting your knee with a variety of different devices, such as hinges, stays or springs, and other stabilizers. Located on the medial and lateral sides of your knee, stays help the knee joint move naturally, support soft tissues, prevent rolling, promote proper alignment, and help prevent re-injury. All of our stays are made of medical-grade polymer or metal so your brace can have the longest lifespan possible.
Knee Brace with Buttress
A padded foam buttress is used to stabilize or prevent improper movement of the knee, helping prevent patellar dislocation, kneecap subluxation, chronic patellar maltracking, mild chondromalacia, and lateral patellofemoral malalignment. We offer several knee braces with adjustable buttresses, allowing you to stabilize your kneecap from any direction.
What is The Best Knee Brace for Your Injury?
Knee injuries can be caused by a wide variety of accidents and activities. There are also many different types of knee braces that offer protection and compression. To help you better identify the right knee brace for your needs, we’ve broken down some of the most common injuries and our top knee brace recommendations for each type of injury.
The best way to heal a torn meniscus is to use a knee brace for stability and support. This gives your meniscus time to heal without tearing further or injuring other parts of the knee. A knee brace also minimizes the chance of re-injury by allowing a full range of motion while still providing protection against additional impact.
Knee bursitis is inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac, called a bursa, located near your knee joint. It is caused by frequent kneeling, a hard hit to the knee, or an infection. Symptoms can vary but often include pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Knee bursitis treatment includes the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), avoiding the activity that caused the condition, and wearing a knee brace.
A knee brace for bursitis helps apply compression to the area which can help reduce swelling, relieve pain, and provide stability. In serious cases of bursitis, fluid may need to be drained from your knee.
Patellar tendonitis is also known as runner’s knee, jumper's knee, and patellofemoral pain syndrome. The condition can be caused by too much running, jumping, or overuse. To prevent tendonitis, you can quit or limit activities that place too much stress on your knee, or you can try a knee strap! The tubular padding on our knee band applies targeted compression over your patellar tendon, distributing pressure and relieving stress to alleviate pain.
Chondromalacia refers to damage to the knee joint cartilage. Treatment varies based on the extent of the damage. The first line of defense for chondromalacia treatment is to rest the knee and to try to get swelling under control.
Knee braces can also be helpful during the recovery process. A chondromalacia knee brace with stays or hinges provides compression, as well as added stability and ligament support.
Patellar tracking disorder or dislocation occurs when the kneecap moves out of place. Your kneecap can shift in a variety of directions, most commonly shifting too far towards the outside of the leg. A knee brace with a buttress is ideal for helping to keep your kneecap in the proper position. Most of our knee braces with buttresses can be easily adjusted for inner or outer patella support!
Sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis, knee osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bone slowly deteriorates. An unloader brace helps reduce pressure on your knee joint for bone-on-bone pain relief. We don’t currently sell any unloader braces, as most should be prescribed and fitted by a doctor. Other treatment options include weight management and exercises that are easy on the knees, like swimming. Try our water-friendly knee sleeve for extra support in the pool.
Still unsure which type of knee brace is right for you? Contact our bracing experts on the Customer Care Team for assistance or discuss with your doctor!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Put On a Knee Brace?
Each knee brace comes with an instruction sheet that details the specific application process for that particular brace. Begin by folding up your pant leg. Slide your foot into the top of the brace (where it widens to accommodate your thigh) and out through the bottom. Slip the brace up your leg until it is centered over your injured kneecap. If the brace you’re using is a wrap style as opposed to a sleeve style, place the inside of the pad against your knee, then wrap around the straps.
How Long Should I Wear a Knee Brace?
Always listen to your doctor when it comes to the recovery timeline. They’ll be able to tell you all the important details you need to know, including how long you’ll need your brace. Everybody is different.
Can a Knee Brace Cause More Pain?
If worn correctly and as advised by your doctor, typically no. However, treating your braced knee as injured can cause you to favor your other knee, which could contribute to joint stiffness.
When Should I Start Wearing a Knee Brace?
If you have a nagging knee injury that never seems to get better, you may want to consult with your doctor about wearing a knee brace. Many people also use knee braces preemptively for injury prevention.
How Tight Should My Knee Brace Be?
The knee brace should be snug around the area of injury. It should not be tight enough to restrict circulation but it should provide a good amount of compression. Many of our knee braces are adjustable so you can get the perfect fit.
How Should I Clean and Take Care of My Knee Brace?
Often worn directly against your skin, knee braces should be frequently washed. Most of our knee braces can be hand washed with mild detergent, rinsed thoroughly, and air-dried. Each brace comes with an instruction sheet that details specific cleaning directions for that product. In addition to cleaning, make sure to regularly check for signs of wear and tear. Knee braces get a lot of mileage and stress put on them, so it is important to replace them as needed.
Is It OK to Wear a Knee Brace All Day?
If your doctor recommends it, you can wear your brace all day. However, overuse of a knee brace can worsen your pain or cause further damage to your knee. If you are using a brace that immobilizes your knee, the joint can weaken.
Should I Wear a Knee Brace to Bed?
Unless directed differently by your doctor, you should not wear a knee brace overnight while sleeping.
Can I Wear a Knee Brace on Both Knees?
Yes, all of our knee braces can be worn on either your right or left leg.