Hinged Knee Braces
A hinged brace works well if you need increased stability or to prevent future injury. It is a good knee brace for sports or activities with frequent changes in direction.
The hinge helps reduce pain and provides support for wobbly knees. Hinged knee braces typically have one or two bars with hinges along both sides of the knee, with Velcro straps to hold it in place.
You will feel more stability when you walk.
Unloading Knee Braces
An unloading knee brace is a good choice if you’re looking for a knee brace for arthritis. Also known as an off-loader, this knee brace shifts, or unloads, the weight from the more damaged parts of your knee joint and reduces the bone on bone pressure that is typical of osteoarthritis.
With an unloading knee brace, you may be able to maintain a more active lifestyle, keep working at your job, and perform daily tasks. Again – this will not cure arthritis in the knee. No knee brace can do that. But it can alleviate some of the pain and allow you more freedom.
Compression Knee Sleeves
For people dealing with excessive swelling in their knees, a compression knee sleeve may be the best option. There are many possible causes for swelling, such as knee injuries and if you have had recent surgery.
A knee sleeve is usually made of neoprene or some other soft fabric, and slides up over the knee, sometimes with extra padding on the kneecap.
Different varieties may have openings in the front or in the back, and some have straps as well. But the idea is to provide warmth, compression, and increased knee support, and to reduce swelling.
Patellar Tracking Orthosis Brace
Also known as a PTO, this is a special kind of knee sleeve that limits the movement of the kneecap (the patella), and protects it from possible dislocation or subluxation. For this reason, it is also known as a patella stabilizing knee brace. Some PTO knee braces include hinges for additional knee support.
Patellar Tendon Straps
For anterior knee pain, patellar straps apply pressure to the patellar tendon down the front of the knee and relieve stress on where it attaches to the tibia bone. This particular knee brace has also been found to relieve pain from patellar tendonitis and Osgood-Schlatter disease.
Functional Knee Braces
For ACL tears or ligament damage, the crucial task is to let your knee heal properly and not make the injury worse. These knee braces for ACL tears give extra support, protect the ligaments by limiting movement from side to side and from front to back, and reduce knee pain.
These can include a knee sleeve as well, but many knee pads are not so much meant to protect the interior of the knee as they are to protect it from direct blows. This is most common in activities where you are at risk of landing on your knees, such as skateboarding, roller skating, biking, and volleyball.
Functional Post-Operative Knee Braces
These tend to be the largest knee braces, and you sometimes see these when people have suffered serious leg or knee injuries, or have recently had surgery. These patients don’t quite need a knee immobilizer, but they do need extra protection and very limited motion.
These knee braces typically include metal and plastic along with foam liners. They can usually be adjusted to allow for a certain range of motion.
Learn more about the types of knee braces
Custom Knee Braces
All the above knee braces can be purchased right off the shelf. The problem is, sometimes none of them work quite like you need them to. Why?
It’s not because these options are no good. It’s because every knee, and every injury or condition, is a little bit different. We’ll discuss custom knee braces next, which is the best way to ensure you get the best knee brace for you.