Time and time again at Reflex, we have witnessed the effectiveness of off-loading knee braces in reducing pain and increasing functionality for patients struggling with uni-compartmental osteoarthritis (OA). And the tool’s benefits are backed by other experts in our field – the Journal of Sports Health and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons both report that including the use of an off-loading OA brace with other non-surgical treatments effectively reduces knee pain and increases functionality.
Understanding the research and benefits behind OA braces is crucial in determining whether you should utilize this tool. Read on to learn more about the functionality and effects of off-loading knee braces, and whether you might benefit from wearing one.
Is an off-loading knee brace right for you?
Not to be confused with neoprene or over-the-counter braces, off-loading braces are specifically designed to relieve the medial or lateral compartments of the knee that are affected by OA. These braces help bring the joint back into proper alignment and cause dormant muscles to re-fire and properly function. These changes reduce the mechanical forces and pressure that are being directed to the knee. In addition, off-loading braces help correct compensation patterns and retrain the knee to move correctly. As a result, OA braces help to slow impede the breakdown of cartilage, reduce pain and improve function.
Unlike other, more long-term support tools, this type of brace is only worn during weight-bearing activities and never for more than a few hours at a time. Some patients with severe OA are encouraged to wear their brace during work or activities that aggravate their pain. Depending on the grade of OA, our doctors will make the appropriate recommendation for how often it needs to be worn – and this advice is necessary for maximizing the relief it can provide you.
Finding relief and looking sleek: it’s now possible.
Although the benefits of OA braces are clear, many people refrain from using this tool due to common misconceptions – some perceive that the devices are bulky, uncomfortable, or difficult to put on. However, recent focus on design and innovation has presented many lightweight and modern models to the public.
One example of an updated look is the the OActive 2 model from VQ Orthocare – a light, lower-profile, sleeker version of their highly effective OActive brace. This new model has redesigned buckles and softer inner fabric, which makes it more comfortable for the user. In addition, this brace is approximately one inch shorter than the original model, which can be beneficial for patients of shorter statures.
At Reflex, we pride ourselves on being Portland’s knee pain experts. If you have questions about off-loading braces or the new OActive 2 model, give us a call today at (503) 719-6783.