There are many reasons why a person could experience knee pain. One common one is knee osteoarthritis, which can affect daily activities and general comfort. Symptomatic knee osteoarthritis occurs in around 10% of men and 13% of women aged 60 years or older. The number of people affected by symptomatic osteoarthritis is also likely to rise over the next decade. This is due to the increasingly aging population and levels of obesity.
Considering this, a knee brace is an excellent tool for preventing and managing knee pain and discomfort. Although various types of knee braces can be used to accomplish different goals, the underlying benefits are relatively consistent. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of an unloader knee brace, how they work, when to use them, and who they are for.
What Is An Unloader Knee Brace?
An unloader knee brace is a type of knee brace that’s designed to shift weight off a damaged or affected area of the knee. As the name suggests, pressure on the area of the joint experiencing pain is shifted or “unloaded” and moved onto the other, stronger side of the joint.
They’re a proven way to reduce joint pain and improve joint function. As a result of these effects, they can also lead to a reduction in the need for pain medication. While unloading knee braces provide comfort, improve mobility, and diminish pain, it’s important to note that they don’t cure, slow down, or reverse osteoarthritis or any other kind of joint disease.
How Do Unloader Knee Braces Work?
Unloading knee braces should be custom-made to suit each patient uniquely. They fit around the leg at the knee and limit the joint’s side-to-side movement while still allowing for some flexibility. The braces are designed to place pressure on the thigh bone at three points, which causes the knee to bend away from and take the stress off whichever area of the knee joint is painful.
Each knee brace is quite soft to the touch, which surprises many people, as they expect a rigid structure that will hold the knee in place. However, the unloading is done via straps and a pulling mechanism, so the design is comfortable and not rigid. This design also allows the patient wearing it to make minor adjustments to it by themselves, allowing users to cater to the brace to their preferred comfort level and resistance.
The Main Benefits of An Unloader Knee Brace
Whether it’s for prevention, healing after an injury, or performance/strengthening, there are many benefits that an unloader brace can provide to its wearers. A summary of the most significant ones include:
– Reducing Pain and Inflammation
– Delaying or Preventing Knee Surgery
– Lowering the Risk of Pain Reoccurrence
– Providing Increased Support and Stability
– Aiding the Natural Healing Process
Interested in learning more about the benefits of unloader knee braces? Check out our uses page to see the growing list of uses and benefits for unloader knee braces.
Who Is An Unloader Knee Brace for?
Most often, unloading knee braces are used by people who suffer from osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis, degenerative arthritis, and degenerative joint disease. However, this is not always the case. This painful condition is the most common type of arthritis and usually affects the knees, hips, and hands the most.
Osteoarthritis and Knee Braces
Osteoarthritis develops when cartilage, flexible tissue which allows bones in joints to move over each other, degrades. It can cause stiffness, pain, and swelling in the affected joints. Symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, problems moving joints, swelling, tenderness, and a grating or crackling sound when the affected joints move. The severity and frequency of symptoms can vary from one person to another.
While most commonly seen in adults over 65, osteoarthritis can develop in people of any age. Treatment primarily targets the reduction of inflammation in the affected joints and the increase of joint function. Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, several factors are thought to increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis, such as:
Joint Injury – overusing a joint that hasn’t yet healed after an injury, accident, or operation.
Age – the overall risk of developing this condition increases with age.
Family History – while a single responsible gene hasn’t been identified, it’s thought that osteoarthritis tends to be genetic.
Obesity – being obese puts excessive strain on the joints, particularly load-bearing ones such as the knees and hips.
Sex – it has been found that osteoarthritis is more common in women than it is in men.
Existing Conditions – osteoarthritis can occur in joints that are severely damaged as a result of another condition, whether previous or existing, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Aside from osteoarthritis, unloader knee braces are also used to delay or prevent total or partial knee replacements. These braces can also be used for other conditions where the patient will benefit from reducing load and stress on a part of the knee.
When To Use an Unloader Knee Brace
In general, patients should check with their doctor about any knee pain that they are experiencing, not just patients who have osteoarthritis or suspect that they do. It is especially important to do so if it’s chronic pain and interferes with overall quality of life.
Unloading knee braces are a good idea for most cases of chronic knee pain and circumstances when a total or partial knee replacement surgery needs to be delayed or prevented. Note that the results are only as good as the knee brace, so patients must invest in a quality product to realize the full benefits.
Choosing The Right Unloader Knee Brace
Our flagship product, the Ascender unloader knee brace, has been proven to significantly reduce knee pain in our patient studies. It’s tried, tested, and trustworthy, and we stand by our products and their quality.
Our custom knee brace offers many unique features and benefits, such as:
• Custom 3D-Printed Design
• Lightweight Build (less than 1lb)
• Maximized Comfort Without Sliding
• Adjustable Tension (improving stability and activity)
• Unloads Up to 40lbs of Weight
• Covered by Most Insurance Plans
And so much more. At Icarus Medical, we believe that joint pain shouldn’t stop people from living life to the fullest. That’s why our custom, lightweight knee brace was designed to help patients get back to doing what they love.
You can visit our products page to view our Ascender knee brace and how it can help you. You can also contact us to learn more about our products or have any questions answered. We’re always happy to help and look forward to assisting you in getting your custom-fitted knee brace to begin enjoying life to the fullest once more.