Osteoarthritis (OA) Offloading Knee Braces are specially designed to decrease the pressure on a painful arthritic knee. Suitable for either medial or lateral compartment OA, offloading knee braces are designed to decrease pressure through the arthritic compartment of the knee, resulting in decreased pain, decreased swelling and increased function. This in turn will slow the progress of the arthritis, prolonging the life of the knee and hold off a Knee Replacement.
According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in the knee. The wearing of cartilage allows for a bone-on-bone rubbing which can be extremely painful. Knee braces can provide basic support and compression and can decrease the amount of pressure to the affected side of the knee. This can provide for pain relief and potentially decrease further damage.
Bracing may provide basic support which allows for a decrease in pain and increased daily function. This support decreases the stress placed on the knee by decreasing the work load. With osteoarthritis, the general pain and discomfort due to wear and tear can be a daily struggle. Increasing the support to the surrounding structures, minimizes the general overuse and constant pain that you may experience, allowing for an increased ability to perform the activities of daily living.
Some osteoarthritis braces contain an unloading component. This type of brace is effective if you have damage to primarily one side of your knee. The cartilage provides a cushion between the tibia (shin) and femur (thigh) bones. If you have sustained an injury to your knee, damaging the cartilage, you are at an increased risk of bone-on-bone wearing. The unloader brace creates pressure on the opposite side, effectively opening the joint on the affected side to decrease the rubbing of the bone on bone, or the continued pressure to the thinning cartilage. This correction provides for a decrease in damage, allowing for relief and helping to eliminate the progression of the condition.
Compression and warmth can be provided with your knee brace. This can decrease the pain and swelling associated with your osteoarthritis. The thickness and material will have an effect on the amount of warmth and compression that you get. Some braces provide the effects of both compression and unloading at the same time because they have an unloading hinge component in a knee sleeve.
As your knee joint wears more on one side or the other, you begin to experience a valgus (knock knee) or varus (bowleg) positioning of the knee. This abnormal alignment may create issues in other areas of your body through the changes in pressure put on other joints. For example, as your knee moves into the knock-kneed position due to a closing of the joint on the inside, your feet tend to roll to the inside as well, creating excessive pronation. According to the Mayo Clinic, the OA unloading brace, which helps to open the joint on the affected side, assists in realigning the knee correctly, improving overall body mechanics.