Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 5:47 am | Fair 44º

 
 
 
Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Brace Yourself for Knee Support Options

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(Cottage Health photo via Shutterstock)

What Are Knee Braces?

Knee braces are supports that you wear for a painful or injured knee. Some people use them to prevent knee injuries during sports. Braces are made from combinations of metal, foam, plastic, elastic material and straps. They come in many sizes, colors and designs.

What Kinds of Knee Braces Are There? What Do They Do?

There are four main kinds of knee braces:

» Prophylactic (say: “pro-fa-lack-tick”) braces. These are designed to protect knees from injuries during contact sports like football.

» Functional braces. These give support to knees that have already been injured.

» Rehabilitative braces. These limit harmful knee movement while a knee is healing after an injury or surgery.

» Unloader/offloader braces. These are designed to provide relief to people who have arthritis in their knees.

Do Knee Braces Work?

Maybe. Companies that make knee braces claim that their products work well. Scientific studies have not completely agreed. It’s not clear what the knee braces actually do. Braces often work better in the laboratory than they do in normal use.

In general, functional braces, rehabilitative braces and unloader braces are the most effective. Braces help some people more than others.

Generally, most people who wear knee braces feel that they help. Doctors are trying to learn more about how well knee braces really work and when it’s best to use them.

Remember, the need for a brace should be determined by your doctor.

When Are Knee Braces Used?

“Different knee problems require different knee braces,” said Dr. Anthony Romero, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Cottage Health. “Your doctor may suggest one kind of knee brace after knee surgery. Some doctors may choose another kind of knee brace for support instead of surgery for a torn knee ligament.

“You may also need a knee brace for pain in the front of your knee that isn’t getting better with strengthening and flexibility exercises. Get your doctor’s advice if you want to try a knee brace.”

How Do I Get a Knee Brace?

There are many ways to get a knee brace. Pharmacies or medical supply stores often carry simple knee sleeves or supports. Some people order knee braces directly from manufacturers or on the Internet. Your doctor is a good resource and may know about many different knee brace companies. Your doctor can help you choose a brace and get the correct size.

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