Our knee joints are incredibly important to our daily routine. Without fully-functioning knee joints it becomes incredibly difficult to perform simple tasks like rising, walking, using stairs and exercising. From doing everyday chores to performing high-intensity sports, our knees are vital to our performance, and it’s important that we protect them.
To protect the knee, a variety of support structures and braces have been developed for all kinds of issues regarding the tendons and bone structure of the knee joint. The different designs are meant for specific problems and functions, so it’s important that individuals wear the correct design. The most common functions of the knee brace are to prevent injury, stabilize the joint, and to protect injured knee joints during recovery.
If you’re thinking about investing in a knee brace but you’re not sure if it’s necessary, there are some signs you can look for. Consider these signs that you might need a knee brace:
General feelings of weakness in the knee joints may be a sign that you should invest in a knee brace. If you’re noticing that your knees give out during simple movements or become too tired to hold the weight of your body over time, a simple knee brace can offer some added support.
Some of the causes of a weak knee joint include previous injuries, arthritis, infections, and lack of activity over time. If you’ve experienced sprains or tears in the past, you may find that you are even more susceptible to reinjury of a feebler joint.
Whether you feel weakness during a sport or doing simple activities, consider this a sign that you may need to invest in a knee brace that will assist you in everyday activities. A knee brace will not reverse the symptoms you’re experiencing, but can be used in conjunction with other solutions to protect the area and prevent injury while it heals in its correct positioning.
2. Asymmetric Leg Anatomy
Individuals with asymmetrical leg anatomy may be suffering from one of two problems: Legs that are different lengths, commonly known as Unequal Leg Length, or misalignments in the pelvis or upper leg, known as Leg Length Alignment Asymmetry (LLAA).
Those with asymmetrical leg anatomy may be born with the issue or experience it due to a leg break, infection, or issues with their growth plates. For those with LLAA, one leg or hip sits higher and tighter than the other, creating the illusion that one leg is shorter.
If you’ve noticed signs of either of these symmetry problems, you might consider a knee brace meant to improve asymmetrical leg anatomy. This kind of brace will reinforce collateral ligaments, and improve knee stability and function.
3. Previous Knee Injuries
If you’ve experienced previous knee injuries, this might be a sign to invest in a knee brace. Whether you’ve had small sprains or reconstructive surgery, the knee may require added support to perform the way it did originally.
Athletes, especially, should look for signs of weakness from previous knee injuries when considering a knee brace. Depending on the sport, athletes may be inserting the knee into high-contact situations, directional changes, or pressure that it cannot handle on its own after an earlier injury. For those who have already gone through injuries concerning the ACL, MCL, PCL, or LCL, a quality custom knee brace might help to ensure that the knee remains protected from re-injury.
4. Contact Sports
Individuals who are going to be partaking in contact sports such as football, basketball, and hockey may want to consider this a sign to invest in a protective knee brace. The knee is very susceptible to injury in sports, and the most common causes of knee injuries are contact, change in direction, landing from a jump, and stopping suddenly.
Many athletes, whether previously injured or not, invest in knee braces simply to prevent injury during practice and game play. Depending on the sport, if you know that your knees are going to be performing some of the actions that cause most knee injuries, this may be a sign that you should invest in a knee brace.
It has been reported that sports with the greatest amount of ACL injuries include field hockey, gymnastics, soccer, skiing, lacrosse, snowboarding, and volleyball. Athletes most prone to MCL injuries include those partaking in hockey and wrestling. Contact and high-intensity sports should be a sign for individuals to look at their options when it comes to protecting their knee joints, so that they may continue to play with a healthy body for a long time.
5. Low Contact/Impact Sports
Even if you’re only planning to partake in low-contact/impact sports, there is still the possibility for injury if you are not careful or your knee joints are not prepared. Although there are activities where contact is much more limited, sports such as tennis still require a lot of starting/stopping, changing of direction, and jumping.
If you’re going to be partaking in low-contact sports, this may be a sign that you should consider investing in a brace designed for low-no contact/impact sports. These braces will offer you the stability and protection you need from twists and sprains, while still allowing you to play comfortably.
Stability in the knee joint is maintained by a few components of the knee, including the four major ligaments: The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), and the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). Muscles over the joint also add a secondary level of stability.
Injury to any of the ligaments can cause a great amount of instability in the knee, and a breakdown may be cause for a knee brace to make up for the loss of support. If you feel a lack of strength and stability in any location in the knee joint, wearing a simple knee brace may help to decrease painful symptoms and take some of the pressure off of the injured ligament(s). A custom knee brace may help further, allowing the ligament to heal and protect it from re-injury during recovery.
7. Hyperextension of the Knee
Individuals who possess a hyperextended knee may see this as a sign to invest in a quality knee brace. Hyperextended knees are knee joints that push past the normal range of motions when the leg is in a straightened position. When standing straight, the leg appears to curve backwards.
Mild hyperextension can be healed within a few weeks; however, moderate or severe hyperextension may be the result of tears in the ACL, MCL, or PCL. A knee brace that supports knee hyperextension, such as a CTi brace, offers a combination of protection and stabilization and helps to remove painful pressure points. If you’re noticing signs of hyperextension, a knee brace may be helpful in the healing and protection of the knee joint.
Arthritis is a very common issue that affects millions of Americans in various parts of the body. It is known to create painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and can sometimes deter individuals from using that part of their body.
Individuals who are experiencing arthritis of the knee may recognize the problem from a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common signs of arthritis in the knee joint include increased pain (commonly felt after inactivity), swelling in the area due to excessive fluids, or inflammation due to the formation of bone spurs in the knee joint. For some people, muscles and ligaments may weaken over time, forcing buckling, popping sounds, decreased range of motion, etc.
Those who have arthritis in their knees may notice signs when they struggle to get up in the morning, climb up stairs, run, or kneel down. If an individual is experiencing these signs, they may want to consider a knee brace that can help with symptoms of arthritis. The proper knee brace will help with those joints that have been weakened or which have experienced a breakdown in cartilage.
Many of these knee braces are specific to arthritis as well as osteoarthritis, and may help decrease anti-inflammatory medications and pain. Wearing a knee brace or sleeve will help to assist with general stability and functioning; however, they can also be extremely helpful when arthritis is located on one specific side.
Two of the best types of braces for signs of arthritis include an “unloader” knee brace that shifts the weight away from the affected area, while a “support” brace will help to assist the entire knee load. While a knee brace is not the only solution to arthritis of the knee joint, it may be used in conjunction with a variety of other solutions for overall relief.
9. Inflammation and Swelling
A swollen knee or “water on the knee” can be sign of a number of things happening in the joint. For some it may be as simple as icing the knee and resting the joint, while other causes can be severe and should be looked at by a medical professional.
Some smaller issues, such as minor injuries, minor arthritis, and minor bursitis can be treated at home. However, swelling that is painful and long-lasting, or that impedes movement, should be treated more seriously. In many cases, the knee will require elevation and compression to rid itself of the swelling.
If you notice that your knee has grown in size or is becoming filled with fluids, these may be signs that you could use a knee brace. Many of the quality knee braces available help to compress the area and reduce swelling/inflammation.
10. Kneecap Pain
Consistent kneecap pain may be a sign of weakness in the area or a softening of the cartilage. Without the supportive cartilage, the bones can begin to rub together and cause a lot of pain with even the simplest of actions.
Individuals who notice signs of kneecap pain may consider investing in a knee brace that can help with this problem specifically. A neoprene brace with a cut out kneecap will help to keep the bones in their proper position, and help to ease any pain and discomfort that is occurring.
Anyone who feels as though their knees are not being supported properly, or that they may be prone to injury, should consider investing in a knee brace. If someone is insecure about their overall performance or safety, they may end up doing greater harm than help. Athletes, for example, may perform actions improperly or with reservations to avoid injury. Not only will this impede their performance, it can actually be even more dangerous to their knee joints and may result in greater injury.
Braces May Be the Answer
If you are looking for some support and peace of mind about your knee joints, a compression knee brace can offer that security. Whether you’re playing a high-contact sport or performing everyday tasks, a knee brace that is breathable, easy to use, and comfortable is a great solution to insecurities about the knee joint.
If you’re thinking about investing in a knee brace, the signs suggested above can help you to decide whether a knee brace is something you want to consider. While a knee brace cannot fully heal a knee joint issue or hindrance on its own, knee braces can be effective when combined with other solutions. Some of these solutions include rest, icing, heat, compression, and stretching exercises.
Before making the decision to invest in a knee brace, be sure to speak with a sports doctor or family doctor who can offer their advice on the types of braces available and what you might need. Because knee braces are designed with specific injuries and ailments in mind, it’s important that you wear one that targets the correct areas of your knee joint or that offers the proper support you’re looking for.