Knee osteoarthritis is a common degenerative condition that affects 10% of men and 13% of women over the age of 60. This condition can put a serious damper on any activities you love to do. Since exercise is one of the best treatments for this condition, getting in the exercise you need is crucial. The best knee braces for arthritis pain help you find the support you need to exercise with more confidence and less pain. Here’s 10 of our top picks.
How do knee braces for arthritis work?
Over the course of your life, your knees provide the stability you need to stand up straight, to run, to jump, to climb. Over time, this joint suffers from these blows, leading to osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear condition that occurs as people age. Common symptoms include joint pain, unsteadiness, and reduced flexibility. This happens because the cartilage that typically acts as a shock absorber for your joints is lost or damaged over time, typically on one side of the knee.
As Mayo Clinic explains:
“As the damage progresses, this malalignment worsens. A knee brace can take pressure off the part of your joint most affected by osteoarthritis and help relieve pain. If your knee feels like it might buckle when you put weight on it, a knee brace can also help you stand and move around with more confidence.”
Can a knee brace help arthritis?
Knee braces for arthritis shouldn’t be a first line treatment for your condition, but they can go a long way towards relieving your osteoarthritis symptoms, especially when paired with exercise and weight loss strategies. The greatest benefits of using a knee brace for osteoarthritis symptoms include the following.
1. Reduce pain and inflammation
Knee braces provide a non-invasive option for reducing pain and getting you back to the activities you love. They do this in a number of ways, depending on the knee brace you choose. Knee sleeves for mild arthritis provide cushioning, some structure, and can keep your joints warm. Unloader knee braces for severe cases, as we’ll discuss shortly, completely redistribute the weight on your knee joint. This can relieve pressure from one area, and spread it across the knee.
And while knee braces for arthritis may not help everyone, there is some proof that they do work. A 2016 study from the American Journal of Orthopedics studied 31 knee osteoarthritis patients. Half received an unloader knee brace, while the other half did not. Researchers used knee injury and osteoarthritis outcomes scores, or KOOS, and visual analog scale (VAS) scores to evaluate outcomes.
Patients with an unloader knee brace for arthritis showed the following in their KOOS scores:
- Had significantly less pain (P < .001)
- Fewer arthritis symptoms (P = .007)
- Better ability to engage in activities of daily living (P = .008)
VAS results showed that these patients also had:
- Significantly less pain throughout the day (P = .021)
- Improved activity levels (P = .035)
The study did not find a significant difference in patient’s ability to sleep, their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or sports functioning.