Arthritis is defined as chronic inflammation of the knee joint that usually leads to pain and stiffness. It may occur due to the degeneration of the joint cartilage or when the immune system targets the lining of the joint. Accumulation of uric acid crystals, certain infections and other illnesses can also lead to arthritis. The treatment will depend on the underlying cause, the age of the patient, and his or her medical history.
The goal of arthritis treatment is to reduce the intensity of the symptoms and improve quality of life. Your doctor may prescribe medications, such as NSAIDs, methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, etanercept and infliximab, to manage the symptoms. Corticosteroids, which include prednisone and cortisone, suppress the immune system and reduce the inflammation. Physical therapy may help strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee joint and increase range of motion. Acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga may also provide relief from pain. Your doctor may recommend joint repair, joint replacement or joint fusion surgery. Close to seven hundred thousand knee replacements were performed in the United States in 2011, as per Hospital for Special Surgery. While the intervention can benefit the patient significantly, the rehabilitation process can be prolonged and overwhelming.
If your doctor has recommended a surgical intervention or if other treatment modalities are not working for you, try a knee brace.
Does Knee Brace Help Arthritis?
Knee braces are made from flexible materials such as plastic, metal, synthetic rubber or moldable foam and are available in many different shapes and sizes. Your thigh bone consists of two knobs which connect it to the knee joint. Age-related degeneration of these knobs can misalign your stance and make you appear bow-legged. Over time, your knee may buckle when you put pressure on it. Arthritis can be immensely painful and can have a debilitating impact on the patient’s ability to perform even simple activities such as walking and standing.
A knee brace helps lower pain by shifting the weight from the damaged part of the knee. It may also allow the collateral ligaments to heal. Some researchers believe that the warmth and the support offered by the brace provide psychological benefits by boosting confidence and remind the individual to be more cautious while performing physical activity. Knee braces often help patients to stand longer and walk farther, especially when they are combined with medications and physical therapy. Many patients start using fewer medications with the brace and thereby, are at a lower risk of experiencing medication-induced complications and side effects. Occasionally, a knee brace may help you avoid surgery completely.
Several studies have vindicated these claims. As per a study published in the 2005 edition of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, knee bracing “is an effective mode of treating unicompartmental disease, especially in young patients.” In a 2012 study, published in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics, “pain relief was documented to help in 98.6% of patients fitted with unloading orthoses for medial compartment OA of the knee.”
How to Choose the Right Knee Brace for Arthritis?
You will find a wide selection of knee braces in the market. Your doctor can guide you through the selection process. Knee braces can be classified in to four major types:
- Prophylactic braces consist of straps, bars and hinges. They are commonly used to prevent sports injuries, reduce knee stiffness, and support the anterior, posterior and lateral collateral ligaments.
- Functional braces are commonly made from stretchable neoprene and are held together by metal hinges on either side of the knee. They are ideal for the rehabilitation of the knee, especially after surgery or injury.
- Rehabilitative braces contain foam liners that surround the knee and are supported by rigid bars and hinges. These braces work by restricting the motion of the knee and are recommended immediately after a surgery.
- Unloader braces are knee supports made of molded plastic or foam and are helpful to osteoarthritis patients. These braces force the knee to bend away from affected part and reduce the impact.
A custom brace may cost up to $1,500 and may not be covered by your insurance plan. Talk to your provider before visiting an orthotist. A trained specialist will examine your knee, review your medical history, take measurements, and discuss all the options with your before placing an order for a custom brace. You may have to wait for a few weeks for the brace to arrive.
You may also opt for one of the high quality ready-made braces that are available in many different styles and designs. Most of these products are affordably priced and come with adjustable straps that provide the perfect fit. The choice can, however, be overwhelming. Hence, it is prudent to learn more about some of the popular versions and understand their pros and cons before buying a brace.
5 Best Knee Braces for Arthritis
1. Knee Support By LaChampion
The Design – This lightweight, one-size-fits-most, and breathable brace is made from nylon, foam rubber and lycra. It is 12 x 21 inches in size and comes with adjustable Velcro straps that provide hinged support and reduced knee pressure along with a full range of motion. The open patella design makes it easy to wear and remove. Other important features include soft anti-slip padding, anti-slip strips, and interior springs. You can use this brace almost everyday while performing all kinds of activities ranging from walking and running to playing sports.
Function – The LaChampion knee brace helps maintain the position of the patella. It also guides the knee cap during movement and stabilizes the anterior, posterior, lateral and medial collateral ligaments. Your knee will, therefore, experience firm support, reduced joint pressure, and extensive pain relief. The LaChampion brace is perfect for arthritis and for patients suffering from post-surgical pain. It is also ideal for tendonitis and meniscal tears.
Maintenance – The LaChampion knee brace is easy to maintain and can be cleaned with a non-detergent soap. Check the hinges before use and remove any foreign objects that may be stuck there. The brace should be worn as close to the bones as possible for best results.
Price – This brace combines essential features of prophylactic, functional, rehabilitative and unloader braces within a comprehensive unit. At
$24.90 (Click Here for Current Price & More Details), it is reasonably priced as well. The brace is a great option for arthritis patients who have never tried knee braces in the past.
2. Winzone Knee Brace Support
Design – Winzone offers a 100% neoprene brace that is breathable and temperature sensitive. The brace is 12.4 inches by 21.7 inches in size and has an open patella design. The fully adjustable wrap has stabilizers on both sides for maximum protection. It is easy to put on and remove. The Winzone brace is made from high quality materials and has been built to last long. They are slip-resistant and do not restrict movement. It is a versatile product that can be used for pain relief and support.
Function – The Winzone brace has been created to offer support without compromising on comfort and functionality. The dual stabilizers and the tight wrap help distribute the weight evenly across your knee. It is great for walking, standing, running and other athletic activities. It is flexible and offers a good range of motion.
Maintenance – One of the biggest advantages of the Winzone brace is easy maintenance. Simply toss the brace into the washing machine whenever it needs additional cleaning. Air dry it completely before use.
Price – The brace is reasonably priced at
$29.97 (Click Here for Current Price & More Details). You may find special deals and free shipping offers occasionally. It’s durability, comfort and functionality make it a great buy.
3. Knee Brace from Wuju Fitness
Design – This nylon and spandex knee brace is known for its strong and comfortable design. It is easy to use and comes in three different sizes – small, medium and large. The brace will fit you snugly and will stay in position. You may not even realize that you are wearing a brace. This product has been created for arthritis pain relief as well as for athletic support. Wuju also boasts of products that are FDA approved and come with lifetime guarantee.
Function – The Wuju Fitness knee brace works by improving circulation to your knee and by preventing small and unwanted jerks that aggravate pain and hinder the actual movement. The brace also supports the four major collateral ligaments of the knee while providing gentle compression to reduce pain. Apart from helping overcome arthritis pain, the Wuju brace also benefits patients with a torn meniscus or a simple sprain.
Maintenance – The Wuju brace is washable and can be maintained with ease. It is a durable product that lasts for a very long time.
Price – This brace from Wuju Fitness is one of the most affordable braces in the market today. The price ranges from
$13 to $16 (Click Here for Current Price & More Details), depending on the size. If you are skeptical about knee braces and do not wish to invest a lot of money, this one would be a great choice.
4. Kinetiks Knee Brace
Design – The Kinetiks knee brace includes a unique design that provides a snug fit, substantial pain relief, and great support. The brace consists of a flexible gel padding that is surrounded by a breathable neoprene covering and is supported by stretchable wrap-around straps. The size adjustable brace is 12 to 18 inches in size and is secured with the help of five Velcro straps at the back. It also has a 7-inch flexible support that helps the brace to stay in position during movement.
Function – The Kinetiks knee brace offers safety, comfort and stability to the knee. The gel padding offers additional support to the knee cap, and the neoprene covering retains heat to aid recovery. The brace has been engineered to help arthritis pain, stiffness, knee strains and sprains, patellar discomfort, joint fatigue, and injuries.
Maintenance – The Kinetics knee brace is very durable. The neoprene covering is easy to clean as well. However, it has a gel padding and should not be washed in a washing machine.
Price – The Kinetics brace will set you back by about
$20 (Click Here for Current Price & More Details). It has been immensely popular with thousands of satisfied customers.
5. Exous BodyGear Knee Brace
Design – Exous knee brace has a special four-strap compression system that wraps the knee from all sides and provides both medial and lateral support. The 4 way strap system also holds the brace in its place and prevents it from slipping and moving during physical activity. The neoprene brace has a gap at its back that stops the brace from scrunching up. It comes with a Jacquard lycra lining that protects the skin from sweat. The brace has a calf size 16.5 inches, knee circumference of 13 inches, and maximum upper thigh circumference of 20 inches.
Function – Apart from wrapping the knee from all angles, the two small cross-over straps of an Exous BodyGear knee brace offer additional support to the patellar tendon. The brace relieves arthritic pain by reducing inflammation. It also helps manage patellar tendonitis and patellofemoral pain and stabilize anterior and lateral collateral ligaments. This brace is ideal for week knees and injured ligaments as well. Many individuals also use them for support while playing sports.
Maintenance – This Neoprene and Lycra brace is washable and highly durable. The brace lasts for a long time and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Price – The Exous BodyGear knee brace is about
$29 (Click Here for Current Price & More Details). Its unique design can offer great protection and support and help you maintain an active lifestyle in spite of arthritic pain.
Close to 52.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis, as per Center for Disease Control and Prevention. About 22.7 million individuals complain of arthritis-related activity limitation. Nearly one in two seniors will develop arthritis symptoms by the age of 85. The condition can have a debilitating impact on the individual’s quality of life. Medications can lead to serious side effects. Surgical interventions can get complicated with age and may require prolonged rehabilitation. A high quality knee brace can make a big difference by lowering pain and improving function without significant side effects. Take time to choose the right brace that provides the best results at a reasonable price. Discuss your concerns with a doctor and get professional help before investing in a brace.