7 Types of Knee Braces

7 Types of Knee Braces

Do you know what knee brace is right for you? Has your doctor or physiotherapist prescribed or suggested one for your injury?  This list will help guide you through the different types of knee braces or supports that may be right for you.


Choosing a knee brace is confusing. Here are some questions that will help you choose the right brace.

  • Do you have swelling or pain?
  • Is this to support your knee during sports or exercise?
  • Do you need support for daily activities – walking, stairs?
  • Have you been diagnosed with osteoarthritis?
  • Are you having knee surgery or already had it?

There are braces for all types of situations. Let’s start by looking at the different types.

1. Compression/Sleeves (Also known as elastic sleeves)

Do you have mild to moderate arthritis or chronic knee pain? Pain and swelling associated with these conditions can be minimized with compression sleeves. 

These braces help:

  • Redistribute the load on the knee when weight-bearing 
  • Increases the ability to perform your best during sport and activity
  • Helps decrease pain from day-to-day movement 
  • Can fit under clothing for daily comfort. 

Compression sleeves have various features from donut holes for the knee cap to metal side supports.

Our story

Andre, one of our clients wears one of these for comfort during regular activity. He doesn’t need to wear it all the time. He only requires mild support while performing various activities, making a compression sleeve the ideal brace for him and his activities. 

Here’s Kristen demonstrating the correct way to place a compression sleeve over the patella.

2. Wrap-a-round

Do you have joint or patellar instabilities, dislocations or ligamentous injuries? 

A wrap-a-round brace is:

  • simple and easy to put on and off 
  • allows you to customize the fit for comfort and knee protection
  • can be worn during activity allowing you to focus on your performance without all the bulk
  • fits various leg sizes 

3. Patellar tendon support

These small bands sit just below the knee cap. They offer support to the patellar tendon by dispersing forces over a wider area. This helps decrease the amount of pull and stress from the bone.

4. Hinged

You may need a hinged knee brace if you have or need:

  • protection and stabilization post-surgery, 
  • an injury to your ACL, MCL, LCL or PCL 
  • have twisted your knee or landed the wrong way
  • poor knee or ankle alignment

A hinged brace offers:

  • protection to the ligaments of the knee
  • delivers support and stability to help with healing
  • can help prevent hyperextension of the knee 

Hinged knee braces come in two forms: rigid and soft. Soft hinged knee braces are ideal for mild to moderate support whereas rigid hinged knee braces are ideal for moderate to maximum support and offer better protection and stability for contact-sports.

There are many types of hinged braces – if you need support for daily living, sports, pre/post-surgery – ask your health care provider for help in selecting the right one for you.

5. Custom knee braces

Custom knee braces are ideal for those looking for a knee brace for extra support and stability. Measurements are taken at specific points on your knee for an accurate fit. The brace is then made for you with your specific measurements and requirements. For example:

  • Do you need it for a specific activity?
  • Do you tend to hyperextend your knee?
  • Do you need support on the inside or outside your knee for stability?
  • Have you had surgery for an ACL/MCL or other injury?

Your doctor, physiotherapist or athletic therapist can help guide you in selecting the right one for you.

There are several bracing specialty companies that offer this wide range of braces.

Here is Kristen, our Athletic Therapist and bracing specialist showing one of our patients how to do the strapping on a new custom brace. This brace is needed following a severe knee injury playing hockey.

6. New: Customizable spring loaded knee braces

Do you need assistance getting out of a chair, walking, going up and down the stairs, being active – there’s a new knee brace that provides assistance through a new technology. The brace is customizable to fit your leg. Through its adjustable settings, your movements are supported making your activities of daily living easier.

It is the only knee brace that can support body weight and assist knee joint extension to reduce pressure throughout all three compartments of your knee — an effect known as “tri-compartment unloading”.

7. Cti brace

These braces are made for specific purposes, especially motocross. They are similar to exoskeleton systems that are rigid and create a very stable environment.

Tensor bandages (Compression)

A compression bandage is a long strip of stretchable cloth that you can wrap around a sprain or strain. It’s also called an elastic bandage or a tensor bandage.

The gentle pressure of the bandage

  • helps reduce swelling and provides mild relief of pain
  • offers light support 
  • also used to hold ice or heat packs in place.

Here are 2 examples – one good and one bad on how to use a tensor when applying ice to an injured area. The first example is applying an ice pack directly on the skin and not applying a base layer to protect the skin first with no compression.

In this example you will see the correct way to use a tensor for applying an ice pack.

Why is a brace important?

Studies published in medical and engineering journals such as the Journal of Orthotics and Prosthetics have indicated that:

  • knee braces can offer up to 95% of users with knee OA experienced a reduction in pain
  • 70% of participants indicated increased weekly physical activity


There are so many types of braces, that it can be confusing. Know your needs or conditions before buying the best product for you.

Call our clinic and speak to our brace specialist – if you do not live close by, call us and we can direct you to another expert. 

We provide a free virtual consultation to help you make the right choice


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Speak to your health care provider for advice. Know your needs and conditions before you buy.

What level of activity or goal do you want to achieve. Is it a return to sports, daily living, pre/post-surgery, there is a support for you.

It depends. Custom braces have certain requirements for insurance to cover payments. Check with your insurer to make sure that they cover the cost of a brace and what they need to know about the brace before approval. Pre-approvals help speed this along.

About Kristen Sarlo

Kristen earned her degree in Athletic Therapy from Sheridan College where she gained valuable experience working with a wide range of individuals. From young athletes to the weekend warriors, she has the skill set to assess and treat different populations tailoring each program of care to meet the needs of each client. Kristen has worked with a variety of varsity level athletes as a part of the Athletic Therapy team for both Algonquin College and Carleton University.  She is also a part time instructor teaching in the Fitness and Health Promotions program at Algonquin College.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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