Knee braces are supports that are usually worn when one experiences knee pain. There are braces that are used to prevent sports-related injuries, there are also those which are used to recover from intense knee and leg workouts and there are braces used to assist patients recovering from a surgery. Most braces are made of metal, foam, plastic or elastic material and straps that come in many sizes, colors, and designs.
If you are trying to manage knee pain during workouts, your doctor may recommend wearing a brace for knee pain. However, there are others who don’t recommend it and say it may do more harm than good. Science has not given a solid answer to the effectiveness of braces, and the best way to know whether you need a brace or not is to check first with your doctor to see what will work best for you depending on your medical history.
Below are different kinds of knee braces available for every situation.
Functional knee braces are braces that help support the knees after it has been injured. Your doctor may also recommend these braces after surgery to help recover and rehabilitate the ligaments inside the knee.
The general role of functional braces is to manage pain and assist in the recovery of injured knees by protecting injured or reconstructed anterior cruciate ligaments. Knee injuries such as these are usually the result of over-training, excessive running, bad form when lifting weights and overexertion. They may also occur when playing contact sports like football.
Post-oper braces are also known as rehabilitative knee braces. Different knee issues require different knee braces for recovery. After ACL surgery, a knee brace is recommended to not only give the knee support, but to limit the range of motion that the knee is normally capable of. Limiting the use of the knee will help the ligaments to heal and will limit any additional tearing the muscle might incur if it was not protected. An ACL functional knee brace is the most common knee brace for ACL surgery since it was specifically designed with these ligaments in mind.
An unloader knee brace is used to provide stability, support and pain relief for people suffering from knee osteoarthritis. Knee osteoarthritis usually affects only one side of your knee joint. The unloader knee brace is designed to transfer pressure within the knee from one side of the joint to the other, hence its name. That means it can shift the stress from an affected side of the joint to a healthier side.
Using an unloader knee brace may provide you with pain relief and comfort as well as help improve mobility. It will not, however, cure or reverse any symptom of osteoarthritis and other conditions of the knees.
Prophylactic knee braces are designed to prevent and reduce the severity of ligamentous injuries to the knee. They protect the MCL (medial collateral ligament) against valgus knee stresses while also protecting the knee joints from further injuries. They are commonly used by athletes who play contact sports such as football and who are at a high risk for MCL injury or who previously suffered an MCL injury.
While they are not technically braces, knee sleeves are the most common type of knee support. They are designed to provide compression around the knee joint in order to support the knee and control pain and swelling.
Knee ice packs
Knee ice packs look like knee braces but come with a removable gel pack that can be used hot or cold. Knee ice packs help with sports injuries, muscle pains, sprains and swelling. The ice pack can also provide relief for rheumatoid arthritis, runner’s knee and meniscus tears.
Knee ice packs combine the principles of cold and hot therapy with compression therapy. This helps heal swollen tendons, joints or muscles.
Things to consider
There are a lot of companies that claim that their knee products work well, but few scientific studies have provided proof of their effectiveness. Some doctors even believe that knee braces may actually do more harm.
Knee braces can be important in preventing knee injuries or healing after an injury, yet doing strengthening exercises that improve the flexibility of the muscles and joints are much more important. Make sure to always stretch the muscles around your knee, strengthen your legs and follow proper exercise techniques.
Increase the intensity of your exercises little by little to limit knee stress. You may also work out an exercise plan with your doctor or a physical therapist to get the best program for you.
These are some questions you may ask your doctor should you decide to get a knee brace or knee support products:
- Do I need a knee brace?
- What kind of knee brace is appropriate for my injury?
- What can I do if the knee brace doesn’t help?
- Are there stretches or exercises I can do to prevent a knee injury?
- Are there stretches or exercises I can do to help my knee heal?
Got a question or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!