Knee Bracing

Woman running with a knee brace

Knee Bracing Services in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA, and Tempe, AZ

A quality off-loading knee brace plays an important role in helping lead a more active lifestyle.  Not only does a brace provide support and stabilize the knee joint, it also helps improve alignment, which is crucial for proper knee function.  Most importantly, it can be adjusted to off-load and protect areas of the joint that have cartilage damage, or to off-load a painful torn meniscus.  At Reflex Knee Specialists, we often recommend bracing as a conservative treatment method to help reduce pain and manage the symptoms that accompany knee injuries or to off-load an area with cartilage damage caused by osteoarthritis (OA). Serving patients in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, Reflex Knee Specialists provides comprehensive knee evaluations and a wide range of non-surgical treatment options to reduce knee pain and increase activity levels. Learn more about the different kinds of knee braces and the conditions and injuries that might benefit from bracing.

What Is Knee Bracing?

Knee braces come in many shapes and sizes. A person may wear a knee brace to prevent injury, improve tracking of the patella (kneecap), help with recovery after surgery or an injury, or to manage chronic pain resulting from osteoarthritis (OA). Wearing a knee brace offers many benefits. A well-fitted, quality knee brace can:

  • Mitigate knee pain
  • Stabilize the joint and improve knee movement and function
  • Relieve pressure on the damaged or injured area of the joint
  • Help a patient maintain proper alignment and gait
  • Increase activity levels
  • Reduce the risk of falling

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Each patient at Reflex Knee Specialists receives a thorough evaluation to identify the source of their knee pain. Providers will then determine if a knee brace is needed and recommend one that best suits the patient’s needs and lifestyle.

Conditions That Might Benefit from a Knee Brace

A patient with chronic knee pain or limited mobility because of knee joint instability may be a good candidate for bracing. Medical conditions that may benefit from knee bracing include:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and the knee is the most common joint where OA occurs. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic and progressive condition that is characterized by chronic inflammation that results in irreversible tissue damage. In the presence of inflammation, the cartilage and meniscal tissues destabilize and begin to break down, leading to pain, stiffness, and mechanical dysfunction. OA often affects one side of the knee more than the other, which leads to malalignment. Patients with OA in their knees often develop bow-legged or knock-kneed changes in alignment.

Ligament Injuries

The knee includes several ligaments that stabilize the joint. four main ligaments in the knee are the:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)

Ligament tears or strains often happen when an individual is playing sports. For example, ACL injuries are common among athletes like football and soccer players, as well as skiers.

Patellar (Kneecap) Dislocation

The patella, commonly known as the kneecap, protects the knee joint. A fall or collision can cause the patella to slip out of place, resulting in pain and loss of function. Patients who are tall or overweight are at higher risk of patellar dislocation. Repeated dislocations can lead to cartilage injuries and increase a patient’s risk of developing OA.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

Also known as runner’s knee, Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) can affect children and adults. It may be caused by weak muscles, improper footwear, or overuse of the knee joint. PFPS is characterized by a dull, aching pain over the front of the knee that gets worse after certain activities or after sitting for extended periods of time.

Patellar Tendinitis

This form of tendinitis happens when the patellar tendon becomes inflamed and painful because of overuse. It can cause knee pain over the front of the knee that worsens over time. It most often affects athletes who put significant stress on their knees, like runners, gymnasts, and volleyball players.

Types of Knee Braces

There are many types of knee braces available. A few common types include:

Compression Sleeve

These sleeves are generally available over the counter and best for stabilizing patellar tracking when a person is active. They are typically recommended for people who have patellofemoral pain but little to no cartilage damage under the patella (kneecap).

Off-loading Brace

This type of brace redistributes pressure on the knee and adds protection to the damaged area of the joint. It also holds the knee joint in the correct alignment, helping to prevent additional wear and tear on the bone and surrounding tissues.  An off-loading knee brace also increases joint stability and reduces the risk of falling.

Functional Brace

This type of brace helps to stabilize a joint but lets the wearer maintain their range of motion. It is sometimes used by athletes to reduce the risk of injury.

Patellar stabilizing Brace

This type of brace is used to hold the patella (kneecap) in the correct position after a patellar dislocation or for people who have patellofemoral osteoarthritis (PFOA), which is characterized by cartilage damage on the undersurface of the patella.

Some knee braces are available in standard sizes (‘off the shelf’), while others must be custom-made for a patient to ensure a proper fit.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to knee bracing. If you have a knee injury or a condition like arthritis, your provider will:

  • Complete a comprehensive knee evaluation
  • Assess your gait, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Use ultrasound technology to view structures and tissues inside the knee and identify the source of pain.
  • Determine if a brace is needed for your specific condition
  • When one is needed, recommend the best type of knee brace for your specific condition.  You will be shown how to put it on and adjust it as needed.
  • Recommend additional innovative therapies if needed, such as:

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an injection treatment that uses a patient’s own blood to create a solution of concentrated platelets; an important part of processing PRP is to filter out as many red blood cells (RBCs) and white blood cells (WBCs) as possible since these cells promote inflammation and can cause increased pain.  The PRP preparation system used by Reflex Knee Specialists is very effective in removing the RBCs and WBCs, resulting in better clinical outcomes.  Once injected into the knee joint, PRP reduces pain and inflammation for 6 to 12 months; it also reprograms the cells lining the joint to produce healthier joint fluid which provides a protective cushion over the cartilage.

Joint Fluid Treatment

Joint fluid therapy, or viscosupplementation, involves injecting a synthetic form of hyaluronic acid (HA), a naturally-occurring substance in joint fluid, into the knee joint to reduce inflammation and alleviate knee pain.

Ozone Joint Therapy

Ozone joint therapy provides additional relief from chronic knee pain associated with osteoarthritis. This non-surgical treatment enhances clinical benefits when combined with hyaluronic acid (HA) and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.

Wearing a knee brace combined with these innovative treatments for knee pain can also help patients reduce their reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications.

Get in Touch with Reflex Knee Specialists

Bracing is a safe, non-invasive option that can benefit various causes of knee pain. You don’t have to live with chronic knee pain. If you have experienced a knee injury or have arthritis, the team at Reflex Knee Specialists can help get you back to the activities you enjoy. With office locations in Portland, Oregon, Bellevue, Washington and Tempe, Arizona our team is dedicated to helping patients determine the underlying cause of their pain and to find the non-surgical treatment options that are most appropriate for their specific condition. If you need a knee brace for arthritis or an injury, or if you are experiencing recurrent or chronic knee pain, call us or contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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