- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Off-loading Knee Braces for Osteoarthritis
A typical Offloading Brace
Osteoarthritis Knee Braces
Unicompartmental osteoarthritis - where the degenerative joint disease is limited to one half of the knee, can be treated with the new generation of offloading braces.
The most common type of knee arthritis is medial compartment osteoarthritis. This is wear and tear of the inside of the knee and over time results in the deformity that labels people as bow-legged. This causes the majority of the body weight to be taken through a very small area and greatly increases the rate of wear and leads to increased pain.
Modern offloading braces (also known as unloader knee braces) aim to redistribute the body's weight leading to a decrease in pain. Although many braces claim to offload the joint, a study by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that only two braces physically achieve this. These were the 'OAdjuster' by Donjoy and the 'Thruster' by Bledsoe. These braces should form the starting point for anyone considering osteoarthritis bracing.
Basic Knee sleeve for use if you have mulit-compartment osteoarthritis. An offloading brace is not indicated and is unlikely to help.
More on Arthritis Knee Bracing
As there are many variables in osteoarthritis, there is no substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional. Anyone with arthritis should educate themselves on the condition so they can ask relevant questions when visiting a Physical Therapist, Doctor, or Surgeon.
Knee bracing will not make the affected area "unworn" and is a symptomatic treatment only. Having said that, it is often a valuable step in the fight against arthritis and may delay the need for surgery for years.
This is particularly important in people too young for a knee replacement. Surgeons are reluctant to replace knees in people before the age of 60 as the replacement is likely to wear out while the patient is still relatively young. Revising joint replacement surgery is much more difficult and the results are poorer. Young people also tend to wear their replacements out earlier as they are more active and have higher expectations of the joint. An Off-loading knee brace can help you remain active and decrease your pain in the years before a total knee replacement. With few side effects and the ability to change your mind if you don't like it (unlike surgery), a specifically designed knee brace is definitely worth considering if you have unicompartmental osteoarthritis
The Brace Shop is an online retailer with plenty of information on off-loading braces.
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