Choosing The Right Knee Brace And Support
Sylvia injured her knee during a ski trip last winter. As a child, she was a competitive gymnast who had her fair share of injuries and sprains. Now a mother of two, she wanted to be able to keep up with her teenage kids on the slopes. After physiotherapy treatment, her knee pain was improved and she was able to go about her day with no discomfort. Even still, Sylvia wanted some extra support for her knee the next time she put her skis on, considering her history of knee injuries.
To help you find the right knee brace, here are some questions to help you narrow it down:
- Is your knee swollen or painful?
- Are you using the brace to help support your knee while you play sports or exercise?
- Have you been diagnosed with knee arthritis?
- Will you need help putting on your brace?
There are many kinds of braces that can be used to for a variety of purposes. Here are some examples of different knee supports:
1. Wraparound Knee Brace
Is your knee cap unstable, have you dislocated your knee or do you have mild to moderate pain in your knee?
A wraparound knee brace:
- Allows fairly good movement of your knee
- You can modify and customize the fit and feel to meet your comfort levels while still providing some protection for your knee
- Can be used during sport or exercise to allow you to focus on your game
- Fairly simple and to put on and take off
- Usually quite light
2. Elastic Knee / Compression Sleeve
An elastic knee or compression sleeve may be a good option if you have mild to moderate chronic (meaning more than 3 months) knee arthritis or pain.
The benefits of using an elastic knee sleeve are that they:
- Can be worn under your pants or other clothing
- Help reduce pain from your usual daily movements
- Help to more evenly spread out the load normally put on your knee while weight-bearing
- Improve your ability to train and play sports
Sometimes elastic knee or compression sleeves may include metal supports along the sides or have a cut out hole where your knee cap usually goes to provide greater freedom of movement and comfort.
3. Athletic, rehab tape
The simplest of knee support involves using athletic or rehab tape. Though not as supportive as the other methods, there are still some benefits to using tape:
- Easy to apply and remove
- Allows freedom of movement while providing a some support
- Can be customized to best suit your movement needs
4. Custom knee braces
A custom knee braces usually provides the most support and are best if you need a knee brace that gives you more stability and support. To get fitted for your custom knee brace, your physiotherapist will take various measurements around your knee using specific points to get the best fit. Based on those measurements, your custom knee brace can then be made.
A custom knee brace may be a good option for your knee if:
- Is there one specific sport or activity you would like to use it for?
- Does your knee often hyperextend, or bend backwards?
- Have you had surgery done on your knee?
- Do you play sports at a competitive level?
Your physiotherapist can help you find out what the best type is for you.
Why Is A Brace Important?
Much research has been done on knee braces. One study published in the Journal of Orthotics and Prosthetics found that knee bracing helped patients with knee osteoarthritis reduce their pain by as much as 70%. The use of knee braces also helped them increase the amount of physical activity they could do every week
With help from her physiotherapist, Sylvia was able to find the best knee brace for her and felt confident returning to the slopes again with her family.
Just like buying the right car for you, finding the right knee brace can also be difficult at times. Knowing what your needs are, the type of support you need and what you will be doing while using your brace will help make the decision process a lot smoother and easier for you.
Finding The Right Knee Brace
If you need help figuring out what the best support is for your knee, speak with your physiotherapist. They can help you decide on the best type of support for you knee, depending on your needs and condition of your knee.
Your physiotherapist can also help provide pain relief for any knee trouble you are facing. From devising a care plan, delivering hands-on treatment and recommending the proper exercises, your physio can help you ease your knee discomfort and get you back on your feet
Q: Does my insurance cover knee braces?
A: Some insurance policies do provide coverage for knee braces, but it really depend on your individual policy details. Sometimes pre-approval can be obtained before to make the process easier. Each policy will list out what is required to access coverage for knee braces.
Q: How much do braces usually cost?
A: From just a few dollars for rehab tape to over a thousand dollars for a custom knee brace, the price range can vary quite a bit. By better knowing your needs, you can better narrow down the range for the best support for your knee.
Q: How long will my knee support or brace last?
A: It really depends on the type of support you are using. If just using rehab tape, it can typically last between 1-5 days. A full custom knee brace can last several years depending on the use and how well it is cared for. Most other support in-between usually provide adequate support for up to 1-3 years, again depending on their use and how well they are cared for.