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What Knee Brace is Best for a Torn Meniscus?

The meniscus is a tough, rubbery, crescent-shaped piece of cartilage between the bones in the knee joint. There are two menisci in each knee, the medial and the lateral. They act as shock absorbers, cushioning the impact of the bones against each other, and stabilizing the joint. They also aid proper weight distribution through the joint. The meniscus can tear as the result of an injury, or be worn down through age and use. Usually it is the medial meniscus (on the inner side of the knee) that gets damaged, although both parts are vulnerable.

A meniscus tear may or may not be initially painful. Sometimes part of the meniscus may become lodged in an area of the knee where it doesn’t belong, causing the knee to lock up. Any pain may be worse during twisting or squatting movements. Often, a symptom of the injury is a feeling that the knee might give way at any time. Whatever the pain level, it is an injury that requires rest, ice, and support, followed by exercises to strengthen the knee. Surgery is occasionally necessary to repair the tear.

During healing or post-operatively, a knee brace can provide support and stability, although it will not treat the actual injury. If you have had surgery, or your tear was a severe one, a hinged knee brace will give you significant support and help to prevent rotational movements of the knee that would aggravate the injury. A brace that provides gentle compression to the joint would be a better choice for a degenerative meniscal tear.

A knee sleeve is what to look for if your meniscus tear is relatively mild and you just want some compression and warmth around the knee to relieve your symptoms. Another benefit of wearing a sleeve is to remind the wearer that the knee is damaged, so to avoid making movements that might make the injury worse. These are usually made from neoprene, and are available with or without a patellar (kneecap) cutout. The DonJoy Comfort Knee Brace is an example of this type of sleeve.

Unloader braces are designed to displace weight from the injured side of the knee to the uninjured side. These are suitable for more severe meniscal tears. DonJoy make several knee braces that help to prevent the side-to-side and twisting movements that will cause more pain. They also provide a greater feeling of stability. One brace that gives significant support is the DonJoy Drytex Hinged Air Knee Brace. This brace is particularly suitable for post-operative meniscectomies (removal of the meniscus).

For a brace that is somewhere in the middle in terms of support, consider the DonJoy Tru-Pull Advanced Hinged Patellar Knee Brace.

Bregg also has a good range of knee braces suitable for meniscus tears.

Try on several braces to find the one that is best for you, and remember to follow medical advice in order to achieve optimal healing.

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