Updated on 2016-11-20 – The purpose of a knee brace is to protect your knee from being injured when you are playing sports and doing other types of physical activity such as working around the house, walking the dog, etc. They can also offer protection if you have already injured your knee or have gone through some type of knee surgery. The problem is that there are so many different knee braces out there, it’s hard to know what the best knee brace is for your situation. That’s where this post comes in. We hope that we can shed some light as to the different types of knee braces that exist and why they are used.
Types of Knee Braces
There are several types of knee braces that you can get depending on your injury or other support goals.
Technically this one is not a brace; however it is often referred as one. They are normally made of flexible material such as neoprene and are mainly used to support your knees during general daily activities and also to prevent previous minor injuries from re-occurring.
Hinged knee braces
These typically consist of hinges, bars and straps and are generally used to protect the knee from injury during contact sports (e.g.: football, basketball, etc.), while still providing mobility. Also known as prophylactic knee braces.
Functional knee braces
Also known as ligament knee braces. The purpose of this type of brace is to reduce knee instability after an injury to a ligament. They can also lower the risk of additional injuries during physical activities. They come in various forms, such as hinge-post-strap or hinge-post-shell. They are often recommended for people who have already injured themselves and want to continue to play sports. Also recommended for physical activities that require a lot of jumping, pivoting and rapid direction changes.
Post Op Knee Braces
Designed to limit the movement of the knee during the healing process following an injury and/or surgery. They typically consist of a foam liner or shell that surrounds the thigh, knee and calf, with full-length steel bars on both sides with hinges at the knee level.
Arthritis Knee Braces
These are also known as unloader knee braces, which are generally recommended for people suffering from knee arthritis or osteoarthritis. They are designed to take the load (stress) from the knee and redirect it to the thigh bone to provide relief. They are typically made of formed plastic, foam and steel. Some doctors may recommend this type of brace to people preparing for knee replacement surgery. Arthritis knee sleeves are also available for those suffering from minor cases of OA.
Magnetic Knee Braces
Magnetic knee treatments have been shown to be a reliable treatment for conditions where there is persistent discomfort as well as inflammation of the knee. Another benefit of magnetic knee braces is the ability to increase blood flow in the affected area, which has the effect of boosting the amount of oxygen as well as nutrients provided to the cells surrounding the knee. Magnetic knee supports are available in bands, sleeves & regular braces.
These bands/straps are placed under the kneecap and their main purpose is to provide compression on the patellar tendon in order to reduce pain and discomfort, as well as stabilize the kneecap and improve its tracking. Knee bands (also called patella straps) can be used for a variety of minor to moderate knee problems, generally related to patellar (kneecap). Such as, chrondomalacia patella, jumper’s knee, patellar tendonitis & more. For more information on knee bands, refer to our post “Knee Bands – What Are They And Do They Actually Work?”
There are also all sorts of cryo-cuff knee wraps that are not necessarily knee braces, however they are cold therapy wraps specifically designed to relieve knee pain. We hope that you found this post useful and that you are now aware of the different types of knee braces available to you, depending on your situation. If you still have questions, feel free to use the comment form below and leave us a question. Until next time.
Updated on 2016-11-20 – Added a section on knee bands and magnetic knee braces.
Important Note:You should always consult a doctor to determine the best knee brace solution to support your particular situation.
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