Knee braces – also known as knee supports and knee pads – are used primarily as protective gear to address several physical conditions and prevent knee-related problems. These braces are a prominent fixture in sports medicine, particularly with injured athletes. Some sports medicine experts classify knee braces into two simple categories. Functional knee braces are used by patients with an ACL tear, damaged ligaments or other injuries to substitute for the injured body part. Individuals using these braces are able to continue doing some activities without requiring surgery. Although functional braces will never be a perfect or permanent replacement to normal ligaments, they definitely offer adequate protection in low-load situations, giving the knee greater stability compared to having no braces at all.
1. Consult Your Doctor
One who is considering wearing a functional knee brace should consult with a doctor. The decision to use the brace would depend on the particular ligament injured, the sport the individual plays, rehabilitation work taken, and other factors. An injured athlete must realize that strengthening, physical therapy and rehabilitation are more important than using a knee brace, which may help prevent a re-injury but not hasten or contribute much to the recovery or healing process.
On the other hand, prophylactic knee braces are more of a preventive measure for healthy athletes. However, research has yielded unclear results if such a brace prevents knee injuries. Although some athletes using prophylactic braces have shown lower MCL tears, other factors have also contributed to injury risk reduction. These factors include the kind of sport played and conditioning, position and other player attributes.
Apprehension has also emerged over the possibility that a prophylactic brace may actually be a hindrance to knee movement and even increase the likelihood of injury. Research shows that this is not the case, as long as the knee brace is correctly fitted and firmly in place.
2. Commercial Knee Braces
The Futuro Knee Support Stabilizing Large is one of several knee braces available in the market. The brace is designed to give athletes or individuals with weakened tendons, muscles or ligaments stable and comfortable support and prevent any re-injury. The Futuro can also be worn the whole day or when the user feels discomfort in doing some activities. The brace also does not hinder movement even as the knee is stabilized.
Magnetic therapy is integrated into Magnetic Wave Knee Support. This brace comes in small/medium and large/extra large sizes and features 12 magnets spread strategically in the neoprene material. The HoMedics knee support also applies heat therapy and cold therapy for aches, sprains and other injuries. The brace also fits the user securely with loop closures and a hook.
The single-size Mueller Sport Care Knee Support Open Patella is used for arthritic knees and minor strains and sprains. The support is made from a soft neoprene blend that enables body heat retention to relieve pain and help maintain knee flexibility. The support is also designed with an open patella, adjustable straps, stretch nylon, and trimmed, smooth edges to ensure a comfortable fit, prevent chafing and easy wear and removal.
3. Knee Braces With Specific Applications
– Arthritic knee braces are made for individuals with arthritis
– Tese braces are also called unloader braces
– These are designed to eliminate pressure on knee joints
– Post-operative braces are designed to immobilize knee joints after an injury or surgery
– Magnetic knee braces work on the assumption that magnetic fields promote various health benefits
– Elastic braces are the ideal option, as they adjust to the natural contour of the knee and leg