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To Brace or Not To Brace? – Knee and Ankle Braces

To Brace or Not To Brace? – Knee and Ankle Braces

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Are you experiencing pain in your knees or ankles at work? In this final article of our 3-part series discussing orthopedic braces, we will be discussing knee and ankle braces. There are several types of braces to help relieve the symptoms of common musculoskeletal injuries like osteoarthritis, patellofemoral pain syndrome and plantar fasciitis.

Knee Braces

Braces That Support Internal Knee Structures

Your choice of rigid hinged knee braces will depend on what internal knee structure they are protecting. It is best to work with your local practitioner (Physician, Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist) to determine what type of brace is best for you:

  • Hinged unloader knee braces are good for people experiencing osteoarthritis (OA) pain or those who have a nagging meniscus injury. This brace unloads the weight on the affected side to allow for an increase in joint space which helps reduce pain and discomfort.

  • Compression sleeves can also be used for people who are experiencing mild OA symptoms as the compression can help reduce swelling.

  • Hinged compression sleeves can restrict aggravating ranges of motion in addition to providing compression. It is important to note that these hinged compression sleeves do not provide adequate support for people who are experiencing significant knee instability.

Significant knee instability is often caused by an injury to the primary ligaments (MCL, LCL, ACL, and PCL) of the knee. These injuries require a more substantial rigid hinged knee brace to prevent very specific ranges of motion depending on what ligament has been injured. These are available off-the-shelf but many pain sufferers opt to have a custom brace made to best suit them. Like the rigid hinged elbow brace, these braces are typically used after an injury has healed and the user is looking to return to sports or other physical activities.

Braces That Support External Knee Structures

The patella (aka kneecap) is another knee structure that can benefit from a knee brace. A patellar strap is a thin rigid brace worn just underneath the tip of the kneecap. It helps reduce the symptoms of patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee) and Osgood-Schlatter disease as the brace alters the amount of tension being applied to the patellar tendon. This brace uses the same principles as the tennis and golfer’s elbow brace.

A patellar tracking brace is a neoprene sleeve with a c-shaped cushion that cups the lateral side of the kneecap and helps reduce symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. The c-shaped cushion helps the kneecap move along its natural path by preventing it from drifting towards the outside.

Ankle Braces

Ankle stabilizing braces are made of nylon, and lace and strap around the ankle to provide support and reduce inversion and eversion (rolling the ankle in or out). These are used after you have sprained your ankle. An ankle stirrup brace also prevents inversion and eversion and is made of a rigid, molded plastic that is worn like a stirrup around the ankle. You’ll likely see both braces worn during sports.

A plantar fasciitis sock is a long thin sock with a strap that starts at the toes and connects below the knee on the front of the shin. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are often quite painful first thing in the morning because when we sleep the tissues on the underside of our foot are often in a shortened state. This brace is worn overnight and the strap keeps the toes pulled up and the tissues in the lengthened position.

Let us know at info@movesafe.com if you learned anything new about orthopedic braces!

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