5 min read. Written by Shirouz Elango
Are you experiencing knee pain?
You are not alone. According to a 2016 survey on knee pain, 50% of Singaporeans are currently experiencing or have previously experienced chronic knee pain issues, with 73% at risk of developing further knee problems in their lifetime. As one of the most sensitive yet crucial joints of our body, our knees tend to be highly susceptible to pain. This is where knee bracing can be helpful.
What are Knee Braces and How Does It Help With Knee Pain?
Knee braces are a type of supportive equipment worn by those experiencing pain and injuries in the knee. Conventionally, they are a great way to provide additional support for the knee, helping to provide comfort and relieve acute pain. They can also function as a preventive measure in order to prevent further injury, especially if you have ligament strains.
Here are some reasons why people consider knee braces to alleviate their knee pain:
- Control inflammation and swelling
- Gradual regaining of range of motion while strengthening muscles
- Support knee after an injury (such as torn meniscus or ligament)
- Stabilizing the knee during motion to avoid injuries
- Managing chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis
A 2017 study found that making use of soft knee braces has been effective in alleviating knee pain, mobility, and improving knee confidence—a measure of how confident you are that your knee will support you. Of course, it is important to identify the right brace style as well to maximise your recovery.
5 Common Styles of Knee Braces For Knee Pain
There are several styles of knee braces to choose from, each of them with their own uses, functions and levels of support.
Closed Patella Knee Brace Style
Useful for: compression, all-rounded support
This style of knee support generally come in the form of knee sleeves and is great for light all-rounded support while strengthening the muscles and the joints. It generally helps to control slight swelling and is used for jogging or brisk walking. Commonly used for pains in the knee that are difficult to isolate, it is not recommended to wear this style of brace for daily use if you have to climb stairs or squat.
Open Patella Knee Brace Style
Useful for: compression, all-rounded support, extra patella support
This style of knee brace is similar to the closed patella knee support, except that the patella is left uncovered to reduce pressure on the kneecap. As such, this makes it ideal for daily wear. Recommended for people who have pain behind their knee cap with difficulties climbing stairs or squatting.
Hinged Knee Brace Style
Useful for: pain support, post-operation rehabilitation
This style of braces generally provides more support than the others due to additional side supports that limit excessive lateral knee movements. They are generally prescribed by orthopaedic surgeons or sports physicians to increase stability and to protect the ligaments of athletes with ligament injury or surgery. This is the ONLY type of support that can be worn every waking hour until advised to be removed either by your surgeon or physiotherapist.
Adjustable Stabilising Knee Brace Style
Useful for: lift support, injury prevention
As the name suggests, this style of knee brace allows for good support and stabilization with flexibility in mind. It is normally recommended for athletes who have recovered from ligament injuries and are just starting to go back to sports but still have a slight fear, giving them a fair amount of support.
Patellar Tendon Brace Style
Useful for: swelling, reducing strain, patellofemoral pain
This is for people who complain of pain over the patellar tendon while running or jumping. Such brace styles can help to decrease pain by compressing the patellar tendon and ease the strain across the whole tendon.
It is important to note that a knee brace is not a substitute for proper medical treatment and care. Of course, as with every type of rehabilitative equipment and treatment measures, knee braces may be helpful for some more than others. It is recommended for you to seek advise with a trusted healthcare provider before purchasing one.
How Does Physiotherapy Work With Knee Bracing?
Wearing a knee brace can be helpful in pain management as you work on strengthening your muscles. But using it on its own can only go so far.
Managing knee pain and preventing injuries requires good strength and flexibility. And that’s where physiotherapy can make a world of a difference. In fact, a thorough physiotherapy programme will help to address the root cause of your pain, decrease the risk of re-injury and even improve your performance after recovery.
If you need further advice in managing knee pain, we can help. Reach out to our trusted physiotherapists for a consultation today.
Last Reviewed by Jaden Lim on 12/03/2022