Knee Brace Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Knee Brace

>> What is a knee brace?

When considering how to buy a knee brace, it's best to start at the beginning and look at what a knee brace is used for. The knees support the entire weight of the body, and so it's no wonder that the knee can often benefit from the proper brace. The function of a knee brace is to offer extra support to either help with healing or provide stability during activity. Follow along in this knee brace Guide as knee brace benefits and uses are explained.

>> What type of knee brace do you need?

During your investigation on how to buy a knee brace, you should consider all of the types of braces there are. There are four basic types of knee braces:

• Protective
• Functional
• Rehabilitative
• Unloader/Offloader

The protective knee brace is very popular in sports because it gives overall support to the knee while still allowing for a full range of motion. The functional knee brace is used when the knee has already sustained an injury. This style of knee brace offers support and can help to prevent further injury. If you have recently had knee surgery, then a rehabilitative knee brace is what you will likely need. Doctors use it to limit movement, help the healing process and help prevent further injury. If you suffer from arthritis of the knees, you might find relief by wearing the unloader/offloader style knee brace to manage symptoms while doing everyday activities.

It is important to remember when learning how to choose which knee brace to buy to read the packaging of all knee braces you are considering and to talk to your doctor for the type of support you need.
>> Consider knee brace styles and material

Take a look at the style and material of knee braces while learning how to buy a knee brace. Knee braces are made from materials such as foam, plastic, metal and elastic. They vary in shape, color, size and design.

Knee braces also come as slide on, wrap around with straps and combinations of both. Many neoprene support braces will slide on but also have straps to adjust compression and size.

Knee sleeves are the most common knee brace design sold and are usually made of an elastic cloth or neoprene. They are made to slide snugly over the knee and provide stability and compression around the knee joint.

Knee supports or hinged braces provide lateral support for medial and lateral ligament injuries. The lighter versions of the hinged knee braces are the knee stabilizers and are used for lateral support.

Issues such as bursitis, arthritis and patella issues can often be improved by wearing a patella knee sports brace or a stabilized knee support brace. Patella and knee straps also offer stabilization for the knee cap.

The following chart shows a knee brace comparison between the different types and their benefits.

Knee Brace Style Benefits Soft hinged Provides support in sports and other activities. Considered moderate support. Rigid hinged Provides total support and maximum protection for the knee and ligaments. Knee sleeve Used for light support and stabilization. Also keeps the joint warm. Arthritis knee brace Used for osteoarthritis patients to help with support and provide some pain relief. Patella stabilizer / Patella brace Helps with tendinitis of the patella and other tendon issues. Knee immobilizer Often needed after surgery to protect the knee during rehabilitation. Post-op knee brace Offers support and protection after surgery and during recovery. Knee pad Used in sports such as skate boarding, hockey or soccer to protect the knee during activity. Patella band and knee strap Helps to hold the patella or knee in place and correct alignment. >> How do you care for a knee brace?

Once you know how to choose a knee brace, you need to know how to take care of the brace. Even the best knee braces need regular cleaning and inspections. Inspect your brace each time you use it to ensure that it is in proper working order. Checking your knee brace is important whether or not you use slip-on braces, knee wraps, knee compression wraps or any other type of brace. You can keep your knee brace clean simply by using soap and water and letting it dry before use.

>> Knee injury prevention tips

Here are a few common sense tips to lessen the chance of a knee injury. Stretch before and after exercising to loosen your muscles. Consider low impact exercises such as walking and swimming to help protect the knees. Look for shoes with good arch support and replace running shoes every three months.

Avoid infrequent or inconsistent activity. For example, you may sit at a desk during the week then run or play hard on the weekends. Do some exercises during the week to keep the activity level even and stay in good overall health will help to avoid issues later in life. One last item that is helpful is a knee support pillow to take strain off your back and allow your knees to be in a natural position when sleeping.

Now that you understand how to buy a knee brace, it is important to remember to seek the advice of a medical professional, such as your doctor or a specialist, before making your purchase. Your doctor will help you choose the right knee brace size and type, as well provide guidance on when and how to wear it.

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