Knee Braces: How to choose the right brace for you

Here we aim to help you learn the benefits of a knee brace, how to choose the right one and whether or not a knee brace is right for you.

Benefits of a knee brace

Knee pain can be debilitating and very frustrating. Stairs and hills become a nightmare, and simple daily activities become difficult. A knee brace can help provide support whilst recovering from an acute injury.

A knee brace is designed to mimic the actions of the muscles and ligaments that support the knee. The goal is to allow you to continue to live an active lifestyle, without any limitations on your movement. This is especially useful when healing from an acute injury.

In sports, knee braces can be used as a preventative tool - providing support for sports that place high stress on the knee.

Top 5 Injuries that knee braces support:

  1. Sprained knee

  2. ACL strain

  3. Meniscus injury

  4. Chronic knee pain

  5. Ligament tears

When do you need a knee brace?

There are several situations where a knee brace may be useful:

Knee injuries are common in sports, and as such, a knee brace can help aid athletes to return to sport quicker. It may also help recreational athletes manage or prevent injuries while partaking in sports.

A list of sports where a knee brace can be useful:

Different types of braces

There are many types of knee braces, each trying to fit a specific purpose.

Sleeve brace

A sleeve brace is a simple compression device. These braces are a bit like a thick, tight sock. They will either be a full sleeve or sometimes have a hole in the front for your knee cap. They are beneficial in swelling management and providing compression.

Sports brace (straps or wraps)

This type of knee brace will provide more support than the traditional sleeve brace, with added straps to increase rigidity and provide further support to the knee.

Rigid brace

A rigid brace will usually have significantly more stability than the sports braces, with rigid stirrups adding additional support. As a result, they may feel harder to move in - and are more appropriate for a patient who is not going to be extremely active and needs a high amount of support. These are available off the shelf, or if you are willing to pay significantly more, can be custom fit to your needs.

Range of motion (ROM) knee brace

These braces are very rigid and specific, usually used post-surgically when the surgeon wishes to restrict range of motion. They can be locked into specific ranges, allowing some bending and straightening.

How much does a knee brace cost?

Given the different types of knee braces and their function, it is not surprising that the price can differ quite a lot. Entry-level knee braces can be as cheap as $25/30, with a high support custom knee brace climbing up to approximately $750. As with most things, you pay for what you get - so choose a brace based on your needs.

How to choose the right knee brace

Now that we've outlined what type of braces are available and the varying prices, it's now time to choose one. There are a few factors to consider in this process. Firstly;

For minor injuries, sleeve or sports braces will be adequate - providing enough support whilst not costing too much. For anything more long term or severe, a rigid brace may be the best option. These have the most support, whilst still being flexible enough for everyday use. Finally, range of motion braces - if you need one of these then most likely you will be told so by a health care professional. They are expensive and quite limiting, and only used post-surgery.

Are you still suffering from knee pain?

Whilst a knee brace can provide some support - it's just that, support. Find a local sports physiotherapist who can help treat your knee injury and get back to your active self.

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