According to American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) spokesperson Robert Gillanders, PT, DPT, the purpose of knee braces for arthritis patients is to give the knee a bit of support, and by doing that, reduce pain and increase function.
A knee brace can remove stress from the parts of the knee that are more affected by osteoarthritis, and it helps relieve pain. A knee brace helps arthritis pain and stiffness by providing support for the joint when walking.
The best knee braces for arthritis pain can help you find the support you need so that you can get out there with more confidence and fewer aches. Some evidence suggests knee braces may help decrease symptoms and improve function for those who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee. If you feel that your knee is likely to give out when you place pressure on it, knee braces also may help you to stand up straighter and move with greater confidence.
A brace may help to lessen the pain by shifting the weight away from the more injured part of the knee. Some braces keep your knee locked in place, or they let your knee flex and heal following an injury or surgery. Advanced supportive braces are also commonly used for exercises by those with moderate or minor pain in their knee from osteoarthritis.
Both these types of knee braces for arthritis can open or close around your patella, depending on where you are experiencing pain. An unloader knee brace for arthritis is the more advanced type of support for braces, and its use is generally reserved for individuals experiencing moderate to extreme pain. This OA knee brace is designed specifically for relieving pain in your bony knee, helping to delay the need for knee replacement surgery. Note the three-compartment (levitate 2) release is the only brace to offer full pressure relief, provides quick pain relief during squats, kneeling, and lunging, and helps improve knee power.
Initial data suggest that levitation is highly effective at reducing knee pain in patients with OA.14 In a systematic review of users of the levitation brace for OA of the knee, 95% reported significant reductions in pain after using the brace. Recently, Thoumie and colleagues observed similar improvements in short-term pain (-26/100 on VAS) after 6 weeks with a different knee brace that induced vagus pressure (three-point pressure), suggesting that knee braces deliver immediate pain relief due to their biomechanical effects.
In a 2017 study on people with osteoarthritis, participants wearing the padded knee brace had lower pain levels during walking and took less time to finish the 10 km walking. A 2017 study that compared an open-and-closed patellar guard to knee arthritis on 108 patients found that a knee guard without an open area above the kneecap provided better results for reductions in pain, function, and walking speed than one that had an open area above the patella.