OA Knee Bracing
December 12, 2017

Osteoarthritis (OA) commonly affects the knees, from general wear and tear over the years, or if you have had a meniscal injury then you may be likely to have OA. In knees, this usually affects one side of your knee joint more than the other, medial or lateral (inside or outside) of your knee joint. This uneven wear pattern can cause mal-alignment, which can appear as bowlegged or knock-kneed. An OA knee brace may help by reducing the pain in your knees by relieving the pressure off the damaged joint surface.

OA knee braces come in a variety of designs, structures and materials which all become a factor when selecting an appropriate brace for you. Some designs have a rigid frame and an adjustable hinge to adjust the applied “push” pressure to offload the affected joint space, which can be great for people who take part in multiple activities who need different levels of support throughout their lifestyle. If you have any current or previous ligament instability that you are concerned about, a rigid frame OA brace may be the better choice for you.

Other braces offer a strap like system to “pull” the weight off your joint space when your knee straightens. This brace comes in a sleeve version or a flexible frame style. These braces are a single hinge design.

When choosing between the two systems, many factors are included such as:

  • Activity level
  • Ability to apply brace
  • Weight
  • Leg shape
  • Severity of OA
  • Most importantly, comfort.

If you fit an “off the shelf” brace comfortably, and it provides you the relief you desire, then you can go home with that brace the day of your appointment. If you have a unique leg angle or shape, then a custom brace will be suggested and then will be measured and made to your custom measurements, usually with a color option too! These custom braces usually take between 7-10 business days to arrive back at the clinic, we call you right away and book a fitting appointment where your clinician will check the fit and application before you take it home. After you take any brace home, whether it be custom or off the shelf, we offer free of charge follow up appointments if you feel the brace is not fitting comfortably anymore.

 

What the original brace appointment may entail:

  • A review of your referral or other reports such as a radiology report (standing X-ray report). This helps the clinician direct the choice of the appropriate brace more effectively.
  • An exam of your knee alignment, range of motion and basic leg strength.
  • History, symptoms, and level of activities are all things we will ask you about.
  • Observe you walk to see how your knee moves, and we will see you walk once a brace is applied to compare.
  • A few measurements or digital imaging may be taken to determine size. More specific measurements if a custom brace is chosen.
  • Trialing of some off the shelf braces to determine what fits and has the best results for your lifestyle.
     

We will assist you in finding a brace that is comfortable, and practical for you. The brace is only going to relieve your pain when you’re wearing it.

 

The Unloader one Lite from Ossur is a very lightweight, low profile OA brace. It offers pain relief to someone suffering from uni-compartmental knee OA- meaning only one joint surface (medial or lateral) is affected. This low profile brace can be worn under most loose fitting clothes- better than other brace comparisons. This brace offers adjustable tension by the Dynamic Force Straps and the single Smart Dosing Dial. With the sleeve as part of this brace, the added effect of proprioception is present. Proprioception is the neural feedback that communicate between the sensors on your skin, and your brain from the result of muscle contractions receive from movement making you aware of your joint positioning in your body and the motion of your movement.
The Unloader One Lite is great for the user who has:

  • Mild to moderate uni-compartmental knee osteoarthritis.
  • Uni-compartmental knee conditions that require load reduction to affected compartment, such as meniscal tears.
  • Ideal for low to moderate intensity activities.
  • No impact sports
  • This brace is not available in custom

Ossur offers a medium support OA knee brace with a similar design to the One Lite, only with a semi-rigid frame and single hinge, no sleeve. This brace is available in off the shelf and custom.


The Breg Fusion OA Knee Brace is designed for OA patients who participate in high-impact activities. This brace features a high-strength frame built with tempered aluminum that utilizes Breg’s standard adjustable hinge design for maximum durability, which is available with a dial or the use of a hex key (included) for offloading adjustments.

The Fusion OA brace is designed with:

  • AirTech® frame pads – innovative windows and channels in the pad permit cooling air flow while allowing moisture and heat to move away from the skin
  • Low profile brace provides pain relief, combined with suspension and comfort
  • Proform technology provides a contoured fit and superior protection
  • Convenient thumbwheel dial hinge makes adjusting the level of off-loading easy

Fusion OA is great for the user who:

  • Suffers from unicompartmental OA
  • Take part in moderate to high impact activities.
  • Have ligament instabilities
  • Uni-compartmental knee conditions that require load reduction to affected compartment, such as meniscal tears.

This brace is available in off the shelf sizing and custom


The Genutrain S from Bauerfeind is our lightest support for OA but a very comfortable brace for Patella arthritis, or tri-compartmental OA if no unloading is required. The GenuTrain S knee brace with lateral joint splints, supports the knee joint for indications of slight instability, arthritis or osteoarthritis of the knee. An integral, ring-shaped pressure cushion (pad) surrounds the kneecap, while the interplay of the knit and the pad provides intermittent compression massage, thereby activating the musculature and stimulating the healing process. The combination of hinges and straps add passive support for the knee. All while being hugged in 20-30mmHg medical grade compression knit for those people taking part in activities that cause swelling.

The Genutrain S is indicated for:

  • Slight ligament instability of the knee
  • Swelling/ edema
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Arthritis
  • Available in off the shelf sizing