Discover the Best Hinged Knee Brace
Finding the right hinged brace can be a pain in the patella; pardon my French.
With most of the products on the market, you simply don't get what you're promised. And I don't say that highly, trust me.
I've been dealing with knee issues since I was 12 years old, going from doctor to doctor, from brace to brace.
It's unhinged (pun intended)!
That's what made me start this site in the first place. The available information on knee braces is lacking at best and downright wrong at worst.
That's especially true for the hinged braces.
Because there are many more moving parts, speaking both metaphorically and literally.
They either break away, or they don't allow enough movement. They either offer too little lateral support, or they feel like your knee might collapse any second. The materials are either too stifling or too flimsy. The metal bracing pierces through. The whole thing slips around.
I could go on and on...
I feel you. I've been there...for longer than I care to remember. The only difference is that, since I started this site, I learned everything there is to know about knee braces.
If you feel like that's a good enough reason to listen to what I have to say, let's choose a well-made hinged brace for your particular "case" - be it arthritis, ligament/cartilage problems, post-operation recovery, meniscus, or general stability problems.
Best Hinged Knee Brace
Top Overall Pick - Mueller HG80
- top 2% for balance between flexion and extension
- superior balance for support and movement hampering
- great track record for low issues and problems
- can be hard to source
- has been reported as bulky, so cannot wear under clothing
The HG80 is the proverbial king of the hill. If you ask me, no other hinged brace comes close if you need serious, reliable support.
It ticks all the boxes.
So much so that I actually took the time to send a letter to their headquarters in Prairie du Sac (Wisconsin), thanking them for what their brace did for me.
And, in case you're wondering, I did not receive anything free in exchange for what I'm saying here. If you didn't wonder, you should've, because I've seen it happen in this space.
But I digress...
What's better about the Hg80?
My experience aside, this is the quantifiable data I gathered when researching for this guide:
- The Hg80 sits alone at the top in terms of customer satisfaction percentages, with a whopping 83% of users being satisfied and giving it five or four stars
- It's in the top 2% in terms of the balance between flexion and extension, and that includes braces one or two levels above the price range
- A superior balance between support and movement-hampering; in the top 5% according to my data
- The lowest % of problems reported in all the critical issue categories: staying in place, overly limited movement, and inferior support
Let's get one thing straight...
If you're thinking about the satisfaction percentages and wondering if 4 out of 5 people is too low, it's not.
With any other product, you might look for a satisfaction percentage in the high 90s. Not going to happen with a knee brace. Because knee problems are so unique that there will always be people for whom a product simply doesn't work.
That's why I make a point out of recommending brace with solid warranties and from brands with good customer support.
Back to the Hg80 - four out of five is way above the industry median. In my experience and, more importantly, according to the data I accrued over the years, it's as good as it gets.
What's different about it?
It all comes to three things - the unique aluminum hinge (triaxial), superior anti-slip materials (Patented Antimicrobial HydraCinn), and a design that allows the two to work in harmony.
By "design," I'm primarily referring to the secondary shell and the stabilizing buttress for the patella.
It's fully adjustable, seamless, and pretty light (for a hinged brace), coming in under 0.9 lbs.
Who is it for?
If you recognize your problem in the list below, there's little to think about - this is probably where your search ends.
- Complex non-specfic instabilities
- Runner's or Jumper's knee
- Meniscus trauma
- Cruciate ligament ruptures (either posterior or anterior)
- Femoral pain
- Posttraumatic or postoperative pain
- Degenerative instabilities
Choosing a Good Hinged Knee Brace - Reference Information and a Buying Guide
First things first - anatomy of the knee
In contrast to other joints, the knee is structurally inherently unstable. Surrounding the inner structures are ligaments, muscles, patella, and tendons that provide (or should provide) stability.
When they become damaged, and the knee goes into trauma mode, it can affect other structures in your leg and back and potentially cause further damage.
That's why ignoring the problem is not an option.
This one is pretty obvious and expected. Of course, the materials have to be "good."
But what does that mean exactly in the context of a knee brace?
It means five things:
- Durable enough to withstand both prolonged use and pressure of the metal bracing
- The stitching is flawless
- Compressive without adding insult to injury
- Breathable in all the right spots
- Slip-resistant; so that it stays in place without irritating the skin
Fit and sizing
Another obvious quality aspect. It should be easy to put on/off and provide support without "cooking" your knee - the more granular the sizing chart, the better.
Well-placed straps play a crucial role here.
Open vs. closed patella
This is a question for your physician. I tried to cover a few most common scenarios in my picks, but ultimately, the patellar design choice is too individual for me to offer any meaningful advice.
Sturdy of soft
For milder injuries in acute phases, your physician will likely recommend a compressive brace. Compression is not going to help much if you need rigidity, though...if you need to exert more control over the joint.
This is less a quality aspect and more something to bear in mind.
The all-important hinges
Design, materials, and placement of the hinges will make or break a brace of this type. I know products that excel in most major categories but will never find their place into my top 3 because the hinges don't do their job well.
These are my criteria - the hinges should:
- Be made of a light, modern material. Gone are the days of Forest-Gump-style heavy hinges.
- Be polycentric - meaning they feature a pair of support arms with interlocking proximal ends and pivot pins.
- Be removable - this is not as crucial as the two criteria above but, with all other things equal, you'll want removable hinges so that you can clean/wash the sleeve.
Warranty and guarantee
Many of the braces I looked into don't have the warranty listed, so I had to contact each manufacturer. Ultimately, the warranty terms depend on the price range, which is only natural.
There are custom hinged braces with lifetime warranties. We're not interested in those today. I'm just making a point.
For the mid-price range, I'd say that anything over 6 months or a year is solid.
Ideally, there should also be a guarantee - 30 or 60 days will be enough to decide if it's right for you.
Final Takeaways for Best Hinged Knee Brace
Choosing a good hinged knee brace is no small feat. Some things go beyond the scope of this guide and into the per-case territory.
There are, however, some common points that all the best hinged braces share. I did my best to offer a comprehensive analysis of these key factors.
I hope I played some small part in making the lives of fellow feeble-kneed souls easier.