A Guide to Knee Braces
A knee brace is a supportive device that is worn to stabilize and protect an injured knee. Many people find such support to be very helpful for facilitating recovery and protecting the knee from further injury. For instance, a brace can help keep the knee bones in position and ease pain, allowing an individual to perform exercises designed to strengthen the surrounding muscles. A brace can also provide the stabilization necessary to allow an injured ligament to heal. The benefits may be psychological as well, promoting a feeling of confidence and serving as a reminder to be extra careful during physical activity.
Knee braces can be classified into four general categories, and each is designed to address a different type of knee injury. Depending on a patient’s specific needs, a physician might recommend a:
- Prophylactic brace – Typically constructed of bars, hinges, and straps, prophylactic braces are designed to protect the knee, particularly the medial collateral ligament (MCL), from damage and reinjury during contact sports and other rigorous activities.
- Functional brace – Worn to provide stability and support for the knee during recovery from an injury or surgical procedure, functional knee braces are available in several styles; the most common is made of stretchy neoprene material with metal hinges on both sides.
- Rehabilitative brace – Often used in conjunction with crutches immediately after a knee injury or surgery, a rehabilitative brace is worn on a short-term basis to limit movement of the knee as it heals.
- Unloader brace – Sometimes prescribed for medial compartment knee osteoarthritis (which affects the inner portion of the knee), unloader braces are custom made of molded plastic and steel struts to reduce pressure on the knee by shifting, or “unloading,” stress onto the thigh bone.
Additionally, many weekend warriors and other casual athletes regularly use neoprene knee sleeves, which can enhance stability by providing compression around the knee joint. While knee sleeves are readily available over the counter, it’s best to consult with a physician before wearing one to ensure proper use.
If you’d like to find out if you could benefit from wearing a knee brace, please contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and no appointments are necessary.