They may not be fashionable, but knee braces can be an important tool to combat the pain and stiffness of knee osteoarthritis.
Valgus brace may be especially helpful
A review of multiple studies looked at the potential benefits of knee braces. Researchers found that those who wore valgus braces had a moderate improvement in both knee pain and function, compared with those who wore a different style of brace or no brace.
There are many braces available that help stabilize a knee with osteoarthritis—everything from a simple neoprene sleeve to models with adjustable straps and plastic or metal panels.
In addition to providing stability like other braces do, valgus braces also apply pressure on the medial (inner) knee. This realigns the joint and can be especially useful for those who have osteoarthritis specifically in the medial compartment of the knee.
Other ways to relieve knee osteoarthritis symptoms
There are many other proven treatment options for knee osteoarthritis to ease pain and stiffness:
Exercise and physical therapy
Moving the knee joint (as pain allows) is essential for maintaining range of motion and strengthening the muscles that support the joint. If activities like running or biking aren't possible, try low-impact options like aqua therapy, yoga, or Nordic walking.
Hot and cold therapy
Applying both heat and cold can help a painful or stiff knee. This guide can help you determine the best circumstance to use either heat or cold therapy.
Common medications to relieve arthritis pain and/or swelling include over-the-counter NSAIDs and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Injections or possibly surgery
Injections options include cortisone (steroid), PRP, or viscosupplementation. There are also surgical treatment options for more severe cases of knee osteoarthritis, including total knee replacement.
- "Valgus Bracing for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials" Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 Sep 8. doi: 10.1002/acr.22472. [Epub ahead of print]