Arthritis or osteoarthritis of the knee causes abnormal wearing of the cartilage that covers the joints, and also reduction of the synovial fluid that lubricates those joints. The overall result is inflammation and severe pain in the joints and stiffness in the knee area. People affected by knee arthritis have difficulty in movement, which is often associated with a crackling sound, referred to as crepitus. It is the cartilage that provides a kind of cushioning to the bone ends that help in smooth functioning of the movements. Wearing of the cartilage results in rough surfaces of the joint ends, and produces a creaking noise when they come in contact with each other. The symptoms of arthritis affect a person in his/her daily activities.
Symptoms of knee arthritis become worse if they are left untreated, and it can lead to deformation of the knee. In severe cases, a knee replacement surgery may be performed to reduce the pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Treatment usually involves medication along with arthritis diet and physiotherapy. Exercise and weight control play an important role in the treatment of knee arthritis. Another helpful measure is knee support braces to support and protect the joints. They are more significant for the treatment of one-side arthritis of the knee. Braces reduce the pressure by altering the distribution of weight on the knee joints. They also provide proper alignment of the joints. Some of the types of braces help in retaining the body heat, which helps in reducing the pain.
There are mainly three types of arthritis knee support braces, namely functional, rehabilitative, and unloader/offloader. Among these, functional and rehabilitative types are the most effective ones and are used widely. Functional braces are used by people who have injury in the knee area and those who have arthritis. They give support to the injured knee joints and help decrease the pain. People who have undergone a knee arthroscopy are advised to use rehabilitative braces. They help in quick healing of the knee after an injury or a surgery. Unloader braces reduce the pressure in the knee joints by changing the angle of the joints with special hinges. It is mostly seen that the unloader braces decrease the pain, increase the ability to move the joints, and in some cases, postpone the immediate need of a knee replacement surgery. Patients who are obese should not use unloader braces, as they may have difficulty in fixing the braces.
Recent studies have found that braces help decrease the pain, and also increases the ability to walk a longer distance. Based on the type of arthritis, different braces are recommended. Care should be taken while wearing the braces, and the hinges should be adjusted where the knee bends, so as to get maximum support. Also, it is necessary for the user to check the braces regularly and make sure that they have been placed properly. Not wearing it properly can worsen the pain instead of healing the condition.
It is advisable to consult a qualified physician before using the braces as a part of the treatment of knee arthritis, because only a doctor can tell whether a patient really needs them or not. The doctor will recommend the suitable size and type of braces based on the severity of the arthritis. If pain increases after wearing the knee braces, immediately consult your concerned physician so as to avoid further complications.