Patella braces – Types, pros, and cons

Orthopedic surgeons classify patella braces into different kinds depending on the purpose for which the patella braces are used.

Functional knee braces are usually prescribed post ACL surgery in order to reduce the rotation and translation of the affected knee joint. The degree of support offered by the functional patella brace is mild. However, functional patella braces may not work well in those who have multidimensional knee injuries or in those who have very unstable knees that mandate surgical interventions.

Prophylactic patella braces are commonly prescribed to avoid valgus knee stress, which is a common injury in those who play or have played contact sports. MCL injuries may also be common in athletes with the previous history of knee trauma, and the prophylactic patella brace can offer some degree of support. These types of patella brace are considered to offer some support to the cruciate ligaments especially when encountering rotational stress.

Patellofemoral braces are used especially in those who have suffered some injury to the patellofemoral joint such as patellar tendonitis, patellar chondromalacia o patella dislocation.

The unloader knee brace is another kind of patella brace that is made of molded plastic and foam with steel struts. It is specifically prescribed from those who suffer from osteoarthritic knee pain. The unloader base is effective as a pain management and mobility enhancing aid as it directs the pressure away from the inside of the knee towards the thigh. It is for this reason that the unloader patella brace is prescribed for those who have medial osteoarthritis which affects the inner portion of the knee. Unloader knee braces are, however, like all other patella braces only a complementary aid that needs to be used along with the prescribed therapeutic interventions.

Most knee braces are made of washable neoprene. A significant advantage to using patella braces seems to be psychological rather than physiological, although experts believe that the use of patella braces can contribute to the reduction of inflammation and improvement of stability and gait.

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