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What is the Best Knee Brace for Arthritis?

In common with other joints in the body, the knee is susceptible to developing arthritis. The three main types that afflict the knee are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis, all of which generally develop gradually.

Cartilage covers the ends of the bones that form the knee joint. It serves to cushion the bones, preventing them grinding against each other; it also helps to absorb the shock of impact.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the cartilage, caused by age and general wear and tear on the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is not age-related. It is an inflammatory disease that can destroy cartilage, causing pain and swelling in the joint. Post-traumatic arthritis, which is similar to osteoarthritis, can develop years after an injury such as a fracture, meniscal tear, or damage to a ligament.

Symptoms of knee arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, weakness, and sometimes a feeling that the knee may suddenly give way. To get the most effective treatment you should get a proper diagnosis from your medical practitioner, who may recommend that you wear a knee brace to enable you to walk longer distances.

Braces for knee arthritis tend to be either support braces or unloader braces.

A support brace or sleeve provides warm, comfortable compression and a certain amount of stability for the knee joint. These are good for mild arthritis that affects part of, or the entire, knee. The Neo G Closed Knee Support, a lightweight compression sleeve, has adjustable straps to accommodate differing amounts of swelling, and stays in position, unlike many other knee sleeves on the market.

For mild to moderate arthritis, an advanced support brace helps to support the ligaments, reducing the weight that passes through the knee. These types of brace can offer a patellar cutout that stabilizes the kneecap (patella) without putting pressure on it; many are adjustable to allow for varying degrees of swelling. The Neo G Stabilized Open Support is one to consider, as is the McDavid Pro Stabilizer, which is a lightweight brace giving excellent support. The McDavid Pro is one of the most popular hinged knee braces available.

An unloader brace, which are specifically designed for knee arthritis sufferers, changes the angle of the knee joint to shift weight from the affected side of the knee to the unaffected side, relieving symptoms. Unloaders are especially good if just one side of the knee is affected. DonJoy makes an excellent range of unloader braces. Some to consider are the DonJoy OA Lite, the OA Assist (commended by the Arthritis Foundation), and the OA Everyday (designed for moderate to severe cases). A Breg OA knee brace is also worth considering, particularly the Freestyle.

Although a knee brace will not cure your arthritis, it can relieve symptoms, allow you to continue with your regular activities, and may even delay the need for surgery. Always take your doctor’s advice, and try several types of brace in order to find the best one for your particular condition.

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