- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
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Why Use a Patella Brace?
A Patella Brace is used to treat one of the most common forms of knee pain. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome results from the kneecap abnormally tracking up and down as the knee bends and straightens.
The patella sits in a groove at the front of the thigh bone, just above the knee. During normal movement, the patella glides smoothly up and down. Someone suffering from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome has their kneecap drifting towards the outside of the leg. Rather than smoothly gliding within the groove, the patella rubs up against the outside wall, causing pain and inflammation.
Treatment consists of Physical Therapy, taping, bracing and in serious cases, surgery. The good news is that the majority of cases respond well to non-surgical management.
X-ray of the Patella and Groove
Treating Patella Knee Pain
To treat knee pain caused by abnormal tracking, the underlying cause must be addressed. The kneecap can drift laterally because of muscle imbalance, anatomical differences, or injury.
If the outside part of the quadriceps muscle is significantly stronger than the inside component, the patella is encouraged to move towards the outside and cause pain.
Some people have a naturally shallow groove which offers less constraint to the patella permits it to move too far to the outside of the knee.
Following injury or immobilization the quadriceps muscle, like any other is prone to wasting following disuse. Again, if the inside wastes more than the outside as it is prone to do, the patella is encouraged to drift outwards.
For these reasons, the first line of treatment is Physical Therapy to develop an exercise program aimed at strengthening the muscles on the inside of the thigh to encourage the patella to track within the confines of the groove. This is a very effective treatment but generally takes around 6 weeks of work before the benefits are felt. This is why first taping, and then patella bracing were developed - to offer immediate relief while the underlying cause is addressed. These methods provide a corrective force, pushing the patella back towards the center of the groove.
Abnormal Tracking of the Patella
The Patella Brace - An Alternative to Taping
While you are waiting for your exercise program to show results, a Patella Brace can decrease your pain. It works the same way as taping the patella without the skin irritation and ongoing cost. Most people with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome continue to use a Patella brace for previously aggravating activities even after the symptoms have been resolved.
Some people have a natural predisposition to Patellofemoral Pain. Those suffering from episodes of pain are likely to benefit from a Patella brace.
The Popular Patella Brace
The Tru-pull Lite is one of the most popular Patella Braces as it is simple to apply and allows a high level of activity.
The buttress that applies the force to the patella is fully adjustable to obtain the optimum postion and it is light weight and made of a breathable material.
This brace is often the best choice for the majority of people with Patella Pain.
The Inexpensive Patella Brace
For mild to moderate knee pain caused by patella tracking, the "Lateral J" is a good choice.
The "J" shaped buttress and dual straps apply an even force pushing the patella back towards the inside of the knee, decreasing pressure, pain and inflammation.
For Patella Dislocations or Severe Pain
The Patella Brace for those with Significant Problems.
Those suffering from recurrent dislocations of the patella or severe pain need a brace that applies a maximum corrective force.
The original Tru-pull is a suitable brace. It provides an unparalleled force pushing the patella medially due to the sleeve's superior grip on the leg preventing the whole brace from rotating and decreasing its effectiveness.
It is more restrictive and hot to wear in warm climates so generally only used by those with a significant problem. Most use its little brother, the Tru-Pull Lite as mentioned above.
To view a full range of Patella Braces, click here.