Knee braces are used for a wide range of problems, including medical and sports—there are five types. Understanding the different types of knee brace, how they function, and the conditions they are meant to be used can help you make an informed choice if you are looking for the best knee sleeves 2020.
The five types include functional brace, polyphyletic knee brace, rehabilitative knee brace, unloader/offloader knee brace, and patellofemoral knee brace. Now, let’s examine each of these categories.
1. Functional Knee Brace
A functional knee brace is designed to compensate for a damaged knee ligament. People involved in sports activities that involve jumping, landing, swift changes in direction, or sudden stops may incur an ACL injury. A knee injury may also occur from a fall.
To compensate for the torn ligament, they may opt for a functional knee brace to allow them to perform tasks without undergoing surgery.
Studies conducted to examine the effectiveness of functional knee brace on injured knee ligaments shows that the knee supported with a functional knee brace can withstand force and remain stable as compared to one without.
The force used to conduct these studies is mild and applied in slow motion as compared to what happens in contact sports. In competitive sports, a knee injury is caused by a quick and high-speed force. Thus, it is difficult to determine if using a functional knee brace is useful in this scenario.
When you have a knee injury, it is essential to consult your doctor before settling for a knee brace. Several factors determine if you need a functional knee brace, among them the ligament injured, the type of sport you are participating in, and the rehabilitation plan. From these factors, your doctor can recommend the best course of action.
2. Prophylactic Knee Brace
Prophylactic Knee Brace rose in popularity in the 1970s when they were tested on NFL Players. Since then, there have been several studies to prove their effectiveness in preventing knee injuries.
The results show that the difference between those who wear one versus those who don’t is small. In football, the studies show that players that wear a prophylactic knee brace have a lower chance of MCL injury.
The other factors that could determine the effectiveness of prophylactic knee brace in preventing knee injury include the type of sports and other variables related to the player, such as size, position, and condition.
The one thing that is for sure, amidst the many kinds of research, is that there is no increased risk of injury when a prophylactic knee brace is worn correctly.
3. Rehabilitative Knee Brace
After an injury or a knee surgery, rehabilitative knee brace helps to support and protect the reconstruction and repair of the damaged ligament. They function by limiting the movement of the knee from side-to-side and up-and-down. It allows for moderate movement, thus preventing further injury on the knee joints and ligaments.
4. Unloader/ Offloader Knee Brace
The people who have arthritis can find relief by using an unloader knee brace. The brace exerts pressure on the thigh bone, thereby unloading the pressure from the affected area and forcing the knee to bend on the opposite side of the affected area.
You can also use an unloader knee brace when waiting for a knee replacement surgery. The brace helps to relieve stress from the injured knee before the surgery.
5. Patellofemoral Knee Brace
This knee brace is used in anterior knee pain therapy. The malalignment of the patellofemoral joint causes knee pain. The brace works by resisting the lateral movement of the patella and maintaining its alignment. It also relieves pain in the affected area. Though there is no clear evidence of its effectiveness, patients using the brace have reported improved patellofemoral pain.
Knee braces aid in recovery when a knee is injured. However, more critical is rehabilitation programs that integrate strength, training, technique refinement, flexibility, and activity modification besides wearing a knee brace.
In case a knee brace is used for preventive measures, it is necessary to perform exercises that involve stretching muscles, strengthening legs, and improving techniques so that you can be flexible and robust.
Regularly checking your brace in case of damages is a must. Pay attention to any tears or exposed metals that may cause injury to you or others. It is appropriate to cover them. If the brace is worn out, investing in a new one may seem costly, but you’ll get better results.
Lastly, you can maintain the fabric through regular cleaning with soap and water. Then hang it out to dry instead of using a dryer.