Best Knee Braces | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Best Knee Braces

July 30, 2021

Knee braces serve different purposes.  Some are to fix structural issues in the knee, others are nothing more than to give the knee a hug.  No matter what the knee brace, they are not designed to be used in place of seeking treatment.  It is important to make sure that you are getting proper medical care when you decide to start using a brace because although a brace may be able to alleviate some symptoms, it is not a long term fix and should not be considered one.

Here are the most common types of knee braces and what they should be used for.

  1.  Knee strap.

This is a simple strap that is worn at the base of the knee cap.  People wear this when they have been diagnosed with runner’s knee, jumper’s knee or some other form of tendinitis.  As with any tendinitis, it is due to an over use and you must find out where the over use is coming from.

Why is a particular muscle being overused to the point of pain?  It is imperative to find the weak muscle or muscles and fix it.

The strap can take pain away for days, months and even years but eventually it will no longer be able to control the pain and the treatment will be much longer and more costly if you wait for a brace to stop working rather than if you had dealt with the problem in the first place.

2.  Knee sleeve

This is a knee brace, usually made of neoprene and often found in drug stores that basically squeezes your knee, or gives your knee a little hug.  This type of brace can be replaced with an ace bandage that is applied at the same place and tension.

This brace is used to help decrease pain and swelling.  Again, it is not treating anything, although you may see a reduction in swelling.  But just like the knee strap you need to figure out why the knee was swelling, especially if you did not just fall on it and injure it.

3. ACL brace

This is a type of brace that has metal on both sides and is commonly worn following an ACL tear, usually after rehab is completed and you are returning to sport.

While this is a brace that is worn in conjunction with treatment it is important to keep the exercises going that you had performed in therapy as to not become too reliant on the brace.  You want to have the knee brace there just in case of extreme circumstances and pressures placed on the knee, not just for the little challenges the knee may face.

There is no replacement for keeping the knee and hips strong and your balance where it needs to be.

This is not an over the counter brace and will need to be prescribed by your doctor.  These are custom fit so it is hard to use one given you by someone else.  The most important thing about these braces are to make sure that the hinges stay lined up with the knee.  The brace has a tendency to slide down and if this happens it is no longer properly aligned with the knee and will not be able to function properly.

4. Knee Unloader Brace

This is a brace that is prescribed by a doctor when there is a structural defect in the knee.  There will be a metal bar on one side of the brace and this bar will help to realign the knee.  This is used in the instances when your knee is either is bowing outward or collapsing inward.

In this case therapy will not help realign the knee but will help with other areas of pain.  It is important to wear this brace as prescribed so to take the pressure off not only your knee but your hip and ankle and back as well.  This brace is needed for proper alignment of one side of the body.

Those are some of the more popular knee braces that we see come in.  Yes there are more out there, some with copper, others lined with ice and so on.  No matter what they brace it is not a substitute for receiving treatment and should not be replacing treatment even if it does take the pain away.  The fix will only be temporary and cost you more time and money down the road.

If you or someone you know is suffering from knee pain and wants a FREE consultation with a Doctor of physical therapy, click here or call our office at 215-997-9898.