Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that breaks down articular cartilage around joints. It most commonly occurs in the knees and in people over 45. The cartilage can break down in different areas of the knee, changing the alignment of the joint. Using a knee brace may help support the osteoarthritic knee.
There are numerous types of materials used for knee braces. "Braces are made of a combination of metal, foam, plastic, elastic material and straps and can be fitted especially for the person wearing it," according to the Cochran Collaboration.
Functional braces are appropriate for knees that have been injured. According to the Osteoarthritis Knee Brace Forum, "Patients who have had an injury and who have a bit of arthritis do well with these." People who use this brace report that it helps them.
Use this brace type when you want to heal after an injury or surgery. According to Galt, an online buying guide, "doctors will almost always want to limit the movement of the knee in order to help the healing process. That is where rehabilitative braces come into play." This type is reported to work well, too.
This brace type is for people who have arthritis and are just looking for some kind of support when they do everyday activities. There is no conclusive research saying that this type provides any benefits.
Using a knee brace has been proven to improve the life of someone suffering from osteoarthritis in their knees in one area only. According to the Cochran Collaboration, a regularly updated health care database, using a knee brace improves walking distance, but may not reduce pain or lead to improved quality of life.
The true benefits of knee braces are not clear.
"Scientific studies have been mixed. It's not clear what the knee braces actually do. Braces often work better in the laboratory than they do in normal use," according to the Osteoarthritis Knee Brace Forum.