Arthritis is a chronic, degenerative condition characterized by an inflammation of the joints, including the knee joint. There are many types of arthritis caused by various factors, but osteoarthritis is the most common type. Knee arthritis is very common affecting people of all ages, races, and sexes. Women tend to suffer from arthritis more compared to men. It occurs more frequently as a person gets older, being the leading cause of disability worldwide.
The knee joints provide stability during our entire life while walking, running, jumping, standing up, or sitting down, etc. All these movements will wear and tear the cartilage structures of the knee joint, leading to osteoarthritis.
Arthritis symptoms vary from mild, moderate, and severe. These symptoms are characterized by periods of remission and exacerbation. Usually, the disease tends to progress and get worse over time.
Commonly, signs and symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, swelling of the joint, stiffness, decreased range of motion, etc. In severe cases of arthritis even daily life activities become very difficult or impossible to perform. Getting out of bed, climbing the stairs, or even walking becomes a real challenge sometimes.
Living with pain on the daily basis because of knee arthritis is a problem that many people face. The key goal of the treatment is to relieve the signs and symptoms of arthritis, preventing the cartilages from getting damaged further at the same time.
Even though knee braces are not a first line treatment, they can be very beneficial when it comes to relieving the symptoms of arthritis. Wearing a knee brace when combined with weight loss, regular physical exercise, and medicament treatment will work the best.
Why is wearing a knee brace helpful when suffering from arthritis?
First of all, by wearing a knee brace you will relieve the patellar pain, especially when the cartilages beneath the patella get damaged. Knee braces where the patella is open are best in this case as the opening on the knee brace will support the patella and keep it in its place during joint movement.
Secondly, wearing a knee brace will allow the ligaments to heal. This is especially important in cases of a knee injury when one or more of the four ligaments get damaged. By wearing a supportive knee brace, the pressure is relieved from the knee structures, which are supported correctly at the same time as well, allowing the ligaments to heal properly.
Thirdly, by wearing a supportive knee brace a person can feel more confident and comfortable at the same time. Because of the compression and warmth, these braces provide the swelling, pain, and discomfort in the knee will be relieved.
What are the best types of knee brace for arthritis?
There are different types of knee braces available on the market today, which can make the choice quite difficult. How do you know which knee brace is the right for your problem? Let’s have a look at some knee brace types:
Compression sleeve braces – are one type of knee braces available on the market. They compress the knee joint and the nearby structures, increasing this way the blood flow, soothing the muscles, relieving the swelling, the pain and discomfort as well. These knee braces are slipped over the knee, fitting perfectly under the clothes. Compression sleeve braces are comfortable to wear as well.
Wraparound knee braces – are easy to wear and get them off. They also wrap perfectly around the knee which makes wearing them very discreet at the same time. The ones that have an opening at the patella don’t slide down the leg easily. Wraparound knee braces provide more support than compression sleeve braces, but less then hinged knee braces for example.
Knee band (strap) braces – usually wrap around the bottom of the knee, sometimes even above the knee. These knee braces work by putting pressure on the tendons and spreading the pressure across a larger surface, taking it off the soar area of the knee
Hinged knee braces– knee braces provide maximum support for those with arthritic knees, as well as for those suffering from a knee injury, even old knee injuries. Hinged knee braces are great to wear during the recovery period after a knee surgery. These hinged knee braces will keep the knee in a safe position as the pressure is shifted away from the knee. One negative thing about hinged knee braces is that they are quite heavy and rigid. There are soft hinged knee braces available on the market as well, but these soft knee braces provide less support compared to rigid hinged knee braces.
Custom knee braces – can be quite expensive and often these costs are not covered by insurance. Before visiting an orthotist you should clarify this issue as custom knee braces can cost more than $1,500. Once your correct knee measures are taken by a specialist, you will have to wait a couple of weeks before getting the knee brace as, of course, it is custom made for you.
Top 10 Arthritic Knee Braces
Here are the top 10 knee braces for arthritis based on their level of support and patients reviews and testimonials:
Knee Support for Mild Osteoarthritis by Z1
The knee support brace for mild osteoarthritis by Z1 is a very comfortable and lightweight brace, making it perfect to wear during the day.
However, this knee brace also provides a minimal support during physical exercise as well.
- It fits perfectly on the knee, lightweight and comfortable to wear,
- It is a great supportive knee brace, something between strong rigid braces and soft braces you can get in a drugstore,
- Easy to adjust when needed.
- Because of many Velcro straps, you might find it a little bit confusing to put it on, especially for the first time.
Osteoarthritis Webbed Knee Brace by Don Joy
If you are looking for a knee brace that will allow and provide you with necessary support during a busy and active day, then look no further.
The osteoarthritis webbed knee brace by Don Joy is great if you lead an active life, but also if you need to carry heavy things every now and then.
This knee brace will absorb all the pressure, relieving the pain associated with osteoarthritis as well.
- Provides the necessary support so you can walk easily with minimum or no pain at all,
- Supportive knee brace even when playing sports like golf, for example,
- It doesn’t get hot even on warmer days.
- It tends to run a little bit small, so choosing the right size can be difficult sometimes. Get a larger size better, especially if you tend to be between sizes.
Soft Knee Brace by Winzone
This knee brace is made from neoprene material which means that it won’t slip away nor get hot during warmer days.
It is a soft brace but provides the support needed. It is very comfortable to wear at the same time.
Athletes prefer this soft knee brace by Winzone which allows them to move on the court like a pro, minimizing the pressure on the knee.
- It won’t slip because it is made from neoprene material,
- It won’t get hot during the warm days,
- It provides you with necessary strong support for your knee,
- It is recommended especially for those with bone on bone arthritis,
- You can wear it comfortably and discreetly under your clothes.
- Straps tend to loosen with time.
Arthritic Knee Support by Witkeen
The arthritic knee support by Witkeen is a great brace which works by stabilizing the patella and protecting your knee from new injuries or further damages, relieving the pain and discomfort as well.
It is also made from non – irritating materials. This brace won’t slip and wearing it is quite comfortable as well. You can use it every day even when doing housework, even though it is designed for athletes.
- Comfortable to wear and made from non – irritating materials,
- Helps reduce knee swelling,
- Won’t slip down.
- Tends to be a little bit lose on petite people.
Hinged Knee Brace for Arthritis by Vive
The hinged knee brace by Vive is a great brace for those suffering from arthritis.
It provides the necessary knee support, because of the hinges, while the patella remains open. Because of its strong straps, the knee brace won’t slip during the day nor it will become loose.
This means that this hinged knee brace will give its maximum during the entire day.
- Because of the hinges, the knee will have the maximum support,
- It is recommended to wear during physical activity by those who suffer from arthritis,
- Its design ensures that the patella remains open,
- Easy to clean,
- Strong straps make sure that it does not slip off or become loose during the day.
- This knee brace comes in one size, which does not necessarily mean that it will fit all.
Wrap Brace for Arthritis by Tech Ware Pro
If you are looking for a knee brace which provides high support then wrap brace by Tech Ware Pro is great to use. This brace is lightweight and can be customized at the same time. An opening at the patella is also present.
Wrap brace for arthritis by Tech Ware Pro is also great for those who are looking for a knee brace with a large circumference as these braces fit perfectly up to 24”.
- It provides bi – directional support,
- The patella remains open,
- It works with either knee,
- It is a wrap and go knee brace which means it is easy to wear,
- The Velcro straps provide the necessary support,
- Great to use for yoga, hiking, running, jogging, etc.
- This knee brace rubs against the upper shin.
How to choose the right knee brace for arthritis?
Buying the right knee brace for arthritis can be quite a challenge. As there are many knee braces available on the market today based on the manufacturer, shape, size, and level of support these braces provide, deciding which knee brace is right for you can be very difficult.
The level of support knee braces provide should be crucial when choosing the right knee brace for you. The level of protection ranges from 1 to 3+.
The level one knee braces are soft braces with minimum support. These are aimed at everyday use and mostly for mild cases of arthritis. Level one knee braces are the most flexible ones.
Level 2 knee braces provide more support for the knee compared to those of level 1. These knee braces are not that flexible, but they still allow a certain range of motion. Knee straps or wraparound braces are an example of level 2 knee braces. These braces provide mild to moderate support and they are aimed for use not only during daily activities but when exercising or playing sports as well. These knee braces provide the optimum support your knee needs.
If you are very active and a sports person then a knee brace with higher support is the one you should get, such as level 3 or 3+. Examples of level 3 knee braces are hinged braces. They are characterized by a high level of support but limit the knee movement at the same time.
Wearing such knee braces is less comfortable compared to other less supportive knee braces as these are heavier than the other ones. Level 3+ knee braces provide maximum support and they are usually aimed at cases when there is major knee instability present.
In general, knee braces will have a sizing guide, which will make it a lot easier for you to choose the right knee brace. However, measuring your knee is a good idea to ensure that you will choose the right size. If the knee brace is not fitting well then there is a great possibility of doing more harm than good. A tight brace is also something you don’t want too as it will put too much pressure on your knee, causing discomfort. On the other hand, if the knee brace is too loose then it will not provide the necessary support needed.
If you are not sure about the knee brace size needed, then better consult a healthcare professional who can assist you in choosing the right knee brace for arthritis.
Knee braces are made from various materials, such as metal, plastic, synthetic rubber, moldable foam, etc. When choosing the right knee brace for you, look at its material. It has to be of a comfortable and non – irritating material, easy to clean too.
How to wear a knee brace correctly?
When choosing a knee brace you should check if the knee brace fits correctly as well. As mentioned, the knee brace should not be too big or too small in size, but even if you choose the correct size for your knee, you should wear the knee brace correctly.
How to correctly wear the knee brace and how much too tight it around your knee is something individual. If the knee is too tight your leg will not get the necessary blood supply so you should loosen the straps. If the straps are too loose then you are not wearing the knee brace correctly as well. Perhaps, it will feel a little bit strange wearing the knee brace correctly the first one or two times. Once you know how to correctly fasten the knee brace then wearing it will be the easiest thing.
When choosing the right knee brace for you, remember that knee braces are made for specific conditions. In general, there are four different knee brace types:
Prophylactic knee braces – aim to support the knee and prevent it from getting injured. These types of knee braces are commonly used by athletes.
Functional knee braces – aim to support the knee which has already suffered an injury or which is damaged because of arthritis.
Rehabilitative knee braces – aim to support the knee after a surgery during the recovery period. By limiting the range of motion, the healing process will be shorter.
Patellofemoral knee braces – aim to support the patella during a knee joint movement.
Knee braces are typically recommended for those patients who have mild pain because of arthritis which tends to get worse with movement. For this purpose, basic knee braces will do the work just fine.
You can get these knee braces at most drug stores. They are cheap, easy to wear, and easy to clean at the same time, providing the necessary support for your knee and relieving the pain and discomfort you might have.
In advanced cases of arthritis, there are more customizable knee braces available on the market, which usually have large straps for better fitting and support.
Those who experience moderate to severe pain because of knee arthritis should get un-loader knee brace. These braces work by reducing the body weight on some part of the knees and changing the knee joint angle at the same time. Un-loader knee braces can be expensive and they are usually fitted to a person’s leg for better support.
To get the most benefit from a knee brace you should use it just as your doctor recommended. Every time you wear a knee brace make sure it fits correctly first of all in order for the brace to do its work.
If you are not wearing the knee brace correctly then normally this knee brace will not provide the necessary support needed. Also, when wearing a knee brace, make sure that all the straps and tapes are fastened securely and wrapped around your knee just as the manufacturer recommends or just as your doctor instructed you.
During physical activity, you should check the brace to make sure it is still in its position and that the brace has not moved. In many cases, knee braces will slip down the leg, especially when the strap and taps are not tight enough or when the knee brace is bigger in size. If you notice signs of damage or wear then perhaps it’s time for you to get another knee brace. A well – worn knee brace will no longer do its work and getting a new one is necessary if you want to support your knee correctly.
Following the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer is necessary as well, if you want your knee brace to last. In general, knee braces should be washed regularly with soap and water. Some manufacturers provide knee braces that are machine washable, while others like those manufactured by Vive for example, should be washed only by hand.