What Is The Best Knee Brace For My Condition?
With the endless number of knee braces available in today’s world, making the right selection on your own can be extremely overwhelming, to nearly impossible. As you may or may not know, knee braces can range in price from $19.95 to well over $1,000! Without further insight or knowledge of why and what the individual brace is designed for, you’re probably sitting there scratching your head saying to yourself, where do I start? Hopefully, if you are suffering from severe or chronic knee pain, you have had a chance to visit you doctor by now to have your knee problems professionally examined and diagnosed while being properly directed to the right product(s) for a speedy recovery. We’ll start by saying that ordering the wrong brace can in some cases do more harm than good, so please, consult with your physician to understand your exact knee bracing needs.
Some of the most common injures related to knee pain include:
- MCL, PCL or LCL tears
- Osteoarthritis Arthritis,
- Chondromalacia Patella,
- Patellofemoral dislocations/subluxations (instability),
- Meniscus Tears
- Bursitis or Tendonitis
Of the above common conditions the following suggested knee braces rank highest for each.
To start, let’s look at Osteoarthritis Arthritis, which is the wearing down of the protective tissue at the ends of bones (cartilage) occurs gradually and worsens over time. Joint pain in the knees is the most common symptom. Medications, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery can help reduce pain and maintain joint movement. For most arthritis knee pain, the New Options Sports Koolflex (Made In USA) knee brace is a great choice and will provide adequate support and soothing relief while maintaining good range of motion. If you are in need of something more supportive with side to side motions, you may want to consider the New options Sports OA Wrap Knee Brace (Made in USA). The wrap around, single hinged and removable skarkskin patella buttress design addresses OA and secondary patella tracking issues. Also, the low profile, pre-set 7 degree offset NOS hinge provides OA relief that comes pre-set at 20 degree extension. Brace comes with a stop kit and a condyle spacer pad for added correction.
Next, let’s discuss MCL, PCL and ACL Tears.
What is the ACL? The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the two main ligaments positioned in the middle of the knee. It runs opposite the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), stretching diagonally, posterior to anterior, and attaches towards the front of the tibial plateau (shin bone). Its main function is to prevent excessive anterior translation of the tibia on the femur, or too much gliding forward of the shin bone. It also has an important roll in limiting rotational forces. The ACL has both a nerve and blood supply, although a portion of the ligament is avascular, which contributes to its poor healing capabilities. The neural innervation of the ACL, and all of the ligaments of the knee are not just for pain, but also play a huge roll in proprioception, or our body’s sense of joint position. This is partly why the ACL is so important for balance andstability of the knee. For ACL tears and related injuries, we highly recommend the New Options Sports “The Hybrid” Knee Brace (Made in USA) or the DonJoy Playmaker. Both provide great support for ACL instabilities.
What is the MCL? The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is a two part ligament found on the medical (inner) aspect of the knee. The deep part of this ligament attaches to the medial meniscus and the tibial joint line, and the superficial part starts and ends more superficially on the thigh and shin bone. The MCL act to resist excessive separation of the inside of the knee joint, something called a valgus force. For MCL injuries, we recommend the DeRoyal Warrior II Knee Brace. The Warrior provides:
- Classic pull-up design, wrap-around design, and new half-wrap design to optimize individual patient fit and comfort
- Integrated anti-migration strip (pull-up designs) for superior fixture and reduced slippage
- Flex-tab feature to prevent hinge digging or irritation
- Plaited stretch-nylon material (engineered for swimwear) helps wick away moisture and promote aeration behind the leg and popliteal region
- Waffled spacer fabric promotes breathability and a cooler environment
- Removable condyle pads for increased comfort and stability
- Easy-grip silicone pull tabs for easier donning and doffing
- Two detachable, medial/lateral half-moon shaped buttresses (pull-up style) and one detachable, inferior half-moon shaped buttress (half-wrap) for patellar control Optional flexion/extension stops (0° to 100° in 10° increments) for range motion control
- Optional “hyper control” strapping to help prevent hyper-extension
What is the PCL? The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) runs diagonally opposite of the ACL, crossing it’s path to make an “X” in the middle of the knee. Unlike the ACL, the PCL restricts excessive posterior translation, or sliding backward of the tibia on the femur. This ligament is nearly twice as thick as the ACL, meaning that it is almost twice as strong. This is, along with the orientation of the ligament why PCL injuries are less common than ACL injuries. For PCL inquiries, we recommend the DonJoy Legend Knee Brace. The Legend knee brace offers:
- Low-profile design
- 7 sizes (ranging from a 13" to 32" thigh)
- Pneumatic condyle pads for added comfort and fit
- Flexion stops: 45°, 60°, 75° and 90°
- Extension stops: 0°, 10°, 20°, 30° and 40° (10° installed)
- More rigid frame compared to the SE-4 Legend
- Sports cover, patella cup or undergarments available at extra charge
Next up, Meniscus Tear; a torn meniscus occurs in the rubbery knee cartilage that cushions the shinbone from the thighbone. The meniscus can tear with forceful twisting or rotation of the knee. For meniscus tears, we recommend the Shock Doctor Knee Support with Dual Hinges. The Shock Doctor Knee brace helps prevent and heal meniscus injuries along with providing moderate support to the knee joint. The compression and alignment provided by this brace will speed recovery. The Shock Doctor Dual Hinge features:
- Conically-shaped upper strap
- Patent pending X-Fit® lower strap
- Tempered aluminum stability stays securely positioned in integrated sleeves
- Anatomical pre-curved design
- Four-way stretch Lycra® mesh at back of knee
- Premium stitching assembly, patella support finishing and Lycra® binding for long lasting comfort
- Convenient finger tabs offer easy grip pull when fitting
- N-Tex airflow vented neoprene
On to Chondromalacia Patella (CP), which is also known as “runner's knee,” is a condition where the cartilage on the under-surface of the patella (knee cap) deteriorates and softens. This condition is common among young, athletic individuals, but may also occur in older adults who have arthritis of the knee. For CP, we recommend several different braces and supports. This injury is very common and can be maintained with a hand full of different brands and styles. The first one we recommend would be the SureSport Dual Strap. This brace provides twice the support for relief of painful and weakened knees. The design applies constant dynamic forces to the surrounding areas of the knee reducing the likelihood of overuse syndromes. At the same time, the strap allows for full mobility while providing maximum benefits. Benefits of the SureSport Dual Strap include:
- Compression tubes target above, below and on both sides of the knee
- Provides targeted compression without reducing mobility.
- Upper and side compression tubes target misalignment and help improve patellar tracking.
- Breathable, mesh fabric allows for an all-day comfortable fit.
- Improves patellar tracking and elevation and reduces patellar subluxation.
- Strengthens the kneecap mechanism by applying pressure on the tendon above the kneecap.
- Reduces force of the quadriceps on patella tendon & erosion of the under-surface of the kneecap.
- Helps adjust kneecap due to a misalignment of the quadriceps (Q angle).
- Increase activity Strap applies pressure on patella tendon below kneecap.
- Stabilizes & tighten up kneecap
- Lightweight & comfortable support for relief of pain associated with soreness, stiffness & arthritis.
Next condition is called Patellofemoral Dislocations/Subluxations (Instability), which is an injury of the knee, typically caused by a direct blow or a sudden twist of the leg. It occurs when the patella (kneecap) slips out of its normal position in the patellofemoral groove, and generally causes intense pain with swelling of the knee. Open or arthroscopic surgery may be used to repair damage, but are typically avoided since rates of re-injury, knee function, and patients' opinions do not differ much from conservative treatment. For Patellofemoral Dislocations, we recommend the DonJoy Drytex Playmaker Knee Brace. The Playmaker features and Benefits include:
- Four-Points-of-LeverageThe strap design of the Playmaker knee brace family enhances support of the knee joint, and in particular, the anterior cruciate ligament.
- Polycentric Hinges These hinges conform to the knee joint's natural motion so you'll get to enjoy uninhibited movement of your knee.
- Drytex Fabric This lightweight fabric is a neoprene alternative that provides better airflow, which is ideal for those who live in warmer climates or suffer from allergies.
- Available as a Sleeve or Wraparound brace - You can choose the style you're most comfortable putting on.
Lastly, let’s discuss Tendonitis and Bursitis. Bursitis is inflammation of abursa located near your knee joint. Abursa is a small fluid-filled, pad-like sac that reduces friction and cushions pressure points between your bones and the tendons and muscles near your joints. Each of your knees has 11 bursae. For this condition, we recommend the Shock Doctor Knee compression wrap and the DonJoy Cartilage Knee Sleeve. Both of these knee supports are ideal for addressing knee instabilities and providing soothing support for tendonitis and bursitis. These braces are available in sizes XS-XXL.