Updated: December 2017
Knee Brace Reviews:At some point in your lifetime, odds are you will have some kind of problem with one of your knees. I'm not even 40 years old yet and have had multiple injuries to my knees, thankfully nothing too bad. I've gone through a hyperextended knee, a partially torn meniscus, and general joint soreness in and around my knee. For the health of your knees, you should be proactive and do strengthening exercises and stretching when you are in your teenage years to give the knee joint the best chance at resisting any injuries later in life. It's never too late to start a regular stretching routine or exercise regimen so that your knees remain in good shape and injury free. Knee braces were designed to provide extra support for those of us with painful knees and for people who are recovering from knee injuries. Keep in mind that wearing a knee brace doesn't guarantee that you will not sustain further knee injuries or that knee pain will subside. I recently read an article in the health section of our newspaper that said even those that get knee surgeries to repair issues/problems don't always get pain free results (even after rehab).
Knee braces are broken into 4 distinct groups - prophylactic braces, functional braces, rehabilitative braces, and unloader/offloader braces. You may see some football players wearing protective knee braces which are generally the prophlactic type, best worn for contact sports in preventing knee injuries. The functional knees braces are designed to give support for those that have already injured a knee. If you've recently had a knee surgery or injury, doctors will almost always want to limit the movement of the knee in order to help the healing process, that is where rehabilitative braces come into play. Arthritis is a huge problem, especiall with the aging population in America. Those with arthritis of the knees can help their situation by wearing unloader/offloader braces which provide some relief for everyday activities. All of the above mentioned braces are made from materials like foam, plastic, metal, elastics, and straps. You will find them in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and designs. Are knee braces really helpful? Some doctors don't necessarily agree that knee braces help prevent new injuries or even help those with previous knee injuries. Knee braces do work for some people, but not all and that is what keeps doctors skeptical. One thing that all doctors recommend is that anyone with knee pain or discomfort should see a professional doctor (knee specialist if possible) before they decide on wearing a knee brace. As noted above, strengthening of the leg muscles around the knee is a critical step in reducing further injuries. Wearing a knee brace doesn't solve the current injury and rehab is almost always necessary to strengthen the area. When you do shop for a knee brace, keep in mind that some are $100's and not all insurance companies are going to cover them. Some of the basic knee straps are much cheaper and sold in sporting good stores while others need to be custom fitted and ordered through your doctor. Hinged knee braces, which provide lateral support, are meant for those suffering from medial and lateral ligament injuries. Cartilage and ligament damage are common injuries amongst football players and hinged knee support is regularly worn by lineman in the NFL for extra support. Other uses of the hinged knee brace are for injuries like posterior cruciate ligament sprain, lateral ligament sprain, anterior cruciate ligament sprain, and medial ligament sprain. A less bulky version of the hinged knee brace is the stabilized knee support that many basketball players use and those in other sports like tennis where lateral support on knees is crucial. Knee pain like bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, and patella issues can often be improved by wearing a stabilized knee support brace. Sports injuries are common across all sports and you will find athletes wearing them in tennis, volleyball, soccer, skiing, running, golf, motocross, football, equestrian, rodeo, water sports, and snowboarding. DonJoy braces are the #1 selling knee brace, but other brands like Aircast and Procare are also popular. You can browse the top selling knee braces and supports online here.