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Essence Health Group

Knee Bracing: Why it Makes a World of Difference.

Unloading knee brace

Why Custom Bracing Makes a Big Difference

Why Knee Braces?
Custom-fitted knee braces not only help relieve pressure on your knee joint, they also properly shift the knee into it’s intended alignment from years of imbalance.  We get the question, what do knee braces really do? The unloading brace that we custom fit for our patients during this treatment series allows proper spacing in the joint for the medication to settle in without being compressed by the natural pressures of walking and other daily activities. Reducing the pressure on the joint space not only improves the efficacy of the medication, but it also reduces pain due to bone on bone rubbing because it helps mildly separate and evenly distribute the load on your knees, this is why the braces we use are called “unloading braces”. By opening the joint, these knee braces can relieve bone on bone pressure when the leg is extended and the most pain relief is needed.

What can I expect when wearing my knee braces?
Unloader braces are an effective treatment for unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis. They can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life and potentially delay the need for surgery.  Because these braces are custom fitted, they are tailored to the patient in order to best address the current state of their joint. This is done by shifting stress away from the affected side and evening out the pressure put on specific points of the knee. By providing a net varus or a net valgus force for weight redistribution based on the affected area, the femur and tibia are re-aligned for better support, stability, and overall comfort to the patient.

Because this is shifting the alignment, it is common to feel a bit of soreness in the soft tissue surrounding the joint. Similar to shifts while wearing braces to realign your teeth, this is transitioning joint alignment which can release pressure from the bones and joint space, but cause mild muscle fatigue from this transition as the body adapts. You should not experience severe pain and should check your braces regularly for proper fit and placement. Improper use can further injure the joint.

When do I wear my knee braces?
How often you continue to wear your braces is up to you, but it is recommended that patients start out wearing their braces two hours per day in the first week, and by the second week, up to four hours per day. By week three, you can wear your brace for six to eight hours a day, or as needed. We also recommend patients wear their braces through the duration of their treatment program and post-program as needed. Continuing to wear braces while doing strenuous activities or performing tasks that may create added pressure on the joint is beneficial for both the longevity of the joint and can reduce pain during and post-activity.

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