How To Brace For Knee Osteoarthritis
Knee osteoarthritis is one of the most common issues I see on a regular basis.
Although most thoughts go straight to total knee replacements with this disease, there are many conservative options to help keep you active and decrease your pain.
These can include orthotics, modified activities, physiotherapy, footwear, and knee braces.
All are good options to look at, but this article will focus on different types of bracing that can used with knee arthritis.
What To Look For in A Brace
The common term when looking at bracing for knee osteoarthritis is unloading.
When degeneration occurs in either the medial or lateral joint space in the knee, the goal of the brace is to unload that joint. This is done in two different ways depending on the brace.
One brace type uses a strap that wraps around the unaffected side of the knee, and as you tighten it if it tries to unload the affected side.
The other type of unloading brace uses an adjustable hinge, again on the unaffected side of the knee. Through a dial or key, you are able to increase pressure from the hinge on the unaffected side, trying to unload the compromised side.
Both types have shown to decrease pain in patients and allow them to return to some activities.
Your Options For Bracing
Not everyone wants to go to that level of bracing when it comes to osteoarthritis, and there are other options.
By wearing a smaller sleeve brace with hinges, the knee is held in a more stabilized position. Many patients find that this helps control their pain levels.
Another option is wearing a compression sleeve. Swelling normally presents with knee osteoarthritis.
By using a compression sleeve you can help decrease that swelling. This can increase joint mobility and help decrease pain.
The important thing to remember when dealing with knee osteoarthritis is that there are lots of conservative options to help you. There is constant research being done to help find new ways to decrease the progression of the disease and increase the comfort of patients dealing with it.
Being assessed by an osteoarthritis specialist can help you choose which option may work best for you.
Director of Pedorthics, C. Ped (C)