What Is an Unloader Knee Brace?
An unloader knee brace does exactly what the name says, it is a brace that is designed to unload stress from the affected joint to help alleviate the pain that is associated with osteoarthritis. These braces are there to provide support and stability to allow you to live a more active life style.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis in the knee is the most common form of arthritis. Around 10 million Americans suffer from knee arthritis making it a very debilitating and expensive disease. Osteoarthritis is caused when the cushioning between two bones wares down. This means that these two bones are now in contact with little to no shock absorption benefit. This caused pain, stiffness, swelling and a decrease in functional movement.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by a number of things, the most common being age. The older you get the less likely the cartilage separating the bones has the ability to heal. Increased weight also puts additional stress on the knee joints therefor increasing the risk of osteoarthritis. Repetitive stress injuries to the knee can also increase the risk; because the knee joint is not well vascularized it makes it harder to fully recover. So people who have jobs that require them to continuously kneel, squat, and lift heavy objects are also at a higher risk.
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Who Needs an Unloader Knee Brace?
Unloader braces are most often prescribed to individuals who suffer from medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. This can be seen in someone who suffers from medial knee osteoarthritis by the way they walk; often the knee caves inward and wobbles while walking.
If you are someone suffering from the pain associated with osteoarthritis an unloader brace may be a great option for you. If you have difficulty with regular tasks like gardening, walking the dog, going up and down stairs, or shopping; activities which used to be normal to you then an unloader brace can help.
An unloader brace is a great way to decrease your pain and decrease your reliance on pain medications. It will help increase your mobility and function of the knee. If you are someone who wants to live a healthier life style then an unloader brace is what you need. Talk to your doctor about whether it is the right move for you.
How Does the Unloader Knee Brace Work?
An unloader brace works by taking the pressure in the damaged and painful area of the knee and moving it to a different point in the joint. Designed to apply corrective forces the unloader brace has three points of contact on the thigh that absorb the pressure. This leads to a more normal alignment and distribution of the stress from either the inner side to the outer side or vice versa. The brace will limit side to side movement and force the knee to bend away from the painful aspect of the knee
Most unloader braces are adjustable with the hinges built into the brace. Making it easy to switch which side the brace is transferring stress and pressure from. Although some braces are built specifically for either medial or lateral relief.
These types of braces can be very expensive and bulky, so it is important to talk to your doctor to determine which brace is best suited for you and your condition.