One of the many forms of arthritis is osteoarthritis, the most common form found in the knee. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your knee joint gradually wears away, decreasing the protective space between your bones. A knee brace can help alleviate the pain, but knowing how to choose the best knee brace for arthritis can make all the difference.
Some tell-tale symptoms of arthritis development include:
- Difficulty bending and straightening the knee
- Pain and swelling
- Locking knees during activity
- Buckling/weakness of the knee
It makes everyday activities like walking or going upstairs increasingly difficult. While it can be found in young people, osteoarthritis occurs most often in people over the age of 50.
While there’s no cure for arthritis, there are several treatments to relieve pain and discomfort. To start, you can try safe forms of stretching. Avoid the activities that irritate your knees, such as climbing the stairs and rigorous walking/running. Losing weight will also help by easing the pressure carried by your lower body. Physical therapy helps, too!
Sometimes those options aren’t so preferable and can become frustrating. An option that a lot of people find appealing is a knee brace or sleeve. It can help keep your knee stable and provide that added support you desperately long for if you’re on your feet regularly.
Here’s a list of the best knee braces for arthritis:
1. ‘Soft’ Knee Brace
Just as the name suggests, ‘soft’ knee braces are made of comfortable material that forms to fit over and around your knee. There are different types of soft knee braces you can try, but the most commonly used are compressions/sleeves and wraparounds.
If you have mild to moderate osteoarthritis, try sliding a compressor or sleeve up and over your knee. This device is most commonly used among athletes to redistribute weight and increase support. Since the purpose of a compression/sleeve is to provide strong support, it takes the complete form of your leg, making it easy to wear under clothing.
A wraparound knee brace is a bit bulkier than a compression/sleeve and instead of sliding up and over your knee, a wraparound brace is placed over the knee and secured by a strap that wraps around your knee. With this brace, you can control the tightness of compression and more easily remove the device from your knee.
In a 2017 study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, doctors and researchers found that soft knee braces were successful in alleviating pain and made it easier to walk for those who suffer from mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
2. ‘Unloader’ Knee Brace
Unloader knee braces can be soft or hard and provide the stability and relief for your osteoarthritis if your arthritis primarily affects only one side of your knee. The unloader brace works by transferring pressure from the inflamed part of your joint to the uninflamed, healthier part of the knee. This brace is especially effective when resting, allowing the stress from your arthritis to subside and release pressure.
3. ‘Hinged’ Knee Brace
If you need maximum support for your knee, a hinged knee brace may be best. If you are an athlete or very active and need to feel comfortable about not furthering damage and pain to your knee, strap on a hinged knee brace. In fact, damage to your knees is one of the most common sports injuries. They are bulky, but if you need strong support to battle against the everyday ‘wear and tear’ that is osteoarthritis, you can’t go wrong with this ultimate protection.
October 12 is World Arthritis Day and if you or someone you love suffers from arthritis, you understand the pain and discomfort that comes with joint inflammation. Millions of people all over the world are affected by arthritis, and the goal of World Arthritis Day is to raise awareness and to encourage policymakers to continue to keep arthritis treatment as a top priority in the healthcare field.
Are you ready to take the next step in treating your arthritis? Find out if you have one of the five most common types of arthritis here, then make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will also be able to recommend which type of knee brace best suits your needs. In the meantime, many people find relief by staying active. Our “Guidelines to Physical Activity” will help you determine the proper amount of exercise that is right for you.