Brace yourself: Knee braces for osteoarthritis


Knee braces for osteoarthritis (OA) shift the weight off the most affected part of the knee in order to relieve pain. As a result, the ability to move around may be improved and the distance the patient can walk may be increased. Braces for knees are available in diverse designs, but the majority is made with a mixture of rigid and flexible materials (plastic, metal, or other) for structure and support, and synthetic rubber or moldable foam for padding and positioning. Braces are used together with other treatment alternatives, including prescription and over-the-counter medications and physical therapy.

Elderly people are more likely to develop OA in their knees. This condition affects the two large knobs at the bottom of the thighbone – usually one more than the other, leading to a malalignment that may result in the patient looking knock-kneed or bowlegged. As the unequal damages progresses, the malalignment becomes worse. Bracing can relieve the pressure from the part of the joint that is most affected and reduce pain, as well as help the user stand and move around more confidently, if they fear that the knee might buckle when putting weight on it.

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If you believe bracing is for you, bring the matter up to your doctor. Both physician and patient can discuss the benefits versus the disadvantages.

Knee braces



·         Improved knee function. Pain when climbing stairs, walking longer distances, and during other daily activities may be reduced.

·         Increased confidence. Stability when putting weight on the knee may increase the user’s confidence.

·         Discomfort. The brace may feel heavy, cumbersome, and hot at the beginning.

·         Irritation or swelling of the skin and joint under the brace if the brace is poorly fitted.

·         Lack of results. Braces are not for everybody, and you may not experience the desired results.


You and your doctor may work together to find ways to circumvent some of the disadvantages. For example, your doctor may refer you to an orthotist who can customize the knee brace to fit your particular measurements. This health practitioner will provide you with a knee brace fitting.

Knee brace fitting



The orthotist may

·         Examine the knee.

·         Ask about symptoms and family history of OA.

·         Ask about the activities you expect to increase with a brace.

·         Have you walk a few paces to assess knee function.

·         Take measurements.

·         Talks about the pros and cons of customized vs. ready-made braces.

·         Explain the differences in design between each other.

·         Try several braces on your leg.

The orthotist will teach you how to put on the brace and take it off and to check it regularly to see if it needs adjustments. The orthotist’s instructions must be followed faithfully.


One of those cons that may be discussed is that customized knee braces may cost in excess of $1,500, and may take a couple of weeks to be ready as well. On the other hand, ready-made, off-the-shelf braces are widely available in a great variety of sizes online, for instance at Discount Medical Supplies