Types of Knee Braces
There are basically three types of braces: Post-operative, functional and preventative/prophylactic knee braces. Post-op braces are usually prescribed following surgery or an injury when the knee requires complete immobilization.
There are basically three types of braces: Post-operative, functional and preventative/prophylactic knee braces.
Post-op braces are usually prescribed following surgery or an injury when the knee requires complete immobilization. These braces are usually long braces that may extend from the upper thigh to the lower leg. After surgery or a severe knee injury, mild to moderate pain and edema of the knee occurs. Your doctor may prescribe a knee immobilizer which prevents the knee from bending. These devices are used as an alternative to cast immobilization.
The doctor may also prescribe a post-operative brace that has hinges that offer range of motion capabilities. These post-operative braces are innovative, easy-to-use braces that can adjust the range of motion with the click of a button. These braces can immobilize the knee and then allow controlled increases in range-of-motion as the knee heals and the patient begins physical therapy.
There is no controversy with these types of braces, as they have proven effective and efficient as an alternative to cast immobilization.
Functional braces are hinged supports that support and take over the function of damaged knee ligaments in and around the knee. These braces can be fabric style with hinges, or complete metal frames or carbon fiber. These braces are designed to protect the MCL (Medial Collateral Ligaments), LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament), Meniscus, ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament). You may have noticed some professional football players using these types of braces.
Prophylactic or preventative braces are supports that are used by some athletes that do not have an injury, but prefer to wear a brace to prevent injury, especially in high impact and contact sports like football, rugby, skiing and water sports. This is where we get some controversy.
Many doctors feel it is not only unnecessary to wear a brace to support a normal joint, but may cause harm, as it may affect the biomechanics of the patients gait. Some doctors are also concerned about weakness in the knee joint from prolonged use of knee braces. The more rigid braces will remove stress away from the knee and the surrounding muscles and ligaments and may cause atrophy and loss of bone density.
Many doctors however feel that given the right circumstances, these braces, when used properly, can provide a level of protection for athletes, especially in high impact sports. Some patients with inherited unstable knees can benefit from this type of brace.
It is important that you consult with your physician and therapist before deciding on a knee brace. There are hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of knee braces to choose from, so it can be very confusing. There are braces specific for ACL tears, and ones for patella tracking. If you purchase the wrong brace for your condition, you may not only risk further injury, but may cause other problems. Feel free to browse www.braceshop.com and Shop By Condition to see which type of brace you should be looking for or feel free to call our technical department at (866)325-8045.