By Dr. Ryan Geringer
You may see people at the gym with a small, ridged sleeve over a knee. Or maybe you’ve noticed someone on crutches with a contraption that goes all the way from mid thigh to mid calf. Both of these are examples of knee braces. There are many different types of knee braces depending on the purpose.
Prophylactic braces are worn to prevent injury. They typically include supportive bars along the sides of the knee and adhesive straps to stay in place. The bars work to keep the knee joint aligned even in case of potentially damaging movements or activities. In fact, a study showed that for extreme activities like motocross that bracing can reduce the risk of significant knee injury . This is especially important for people who have already damaged their knee and need a little extra protection from injuries. This kind of support can also reduce the pain of knee strain.
Rehabilitative braces limit knee movement after an injury or surgery. These are the ones that stretch nearly the entire length of the leg and will have the ability to set the range of motion. This allows the rehabilitation to progress from immobilized to increasing range of motion. Thankfully, these braces are only used for a short period of time after an acute incident.
Functional braces help people heal from injuries and provide stability. They can vary in configuration, but they are all typically used during the recovery and rehabilitation phases of an injury. For people with injured ligaments, they help keep the knee aligned preventing re-injury. A study also found that; “Longer-term use of a brace may have implications in slowing osteoarthritis progression”. For people with patellar pain, they help take off some of the stress on patella tendon and help to maintain patella alignment while walking or climbing. These braces are designed to get people moving again and should be designed to move with you and not restrict natural motion.
The Reaction knee brace by Don Joy is an excellent example of a functional knee brace. It supports the knee while it heals from injury, provides stability for those who need it, absorbs shock and takes the weight off of the painful joint. It can also serve as a prophylactic brace, keeping proper alignment during high-risk activities. Don Joy is considered worldwide to make the best orthopedic braces and we include this Don Joy brace in every Knee Care Kit. It relieves pain while also increasing your ability to do the activities you love!
Knee injuries and the use of prophylactic knee bracing in off-road motorcycling: results of a large-scale epidemiological study. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Jul;39(7):1395-400. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21297006
 Hart HF1, Crossley KM, Collins NJ, Ackland DC. Bracing of the Reconstructed and Osteoarthritic Knee during High Dynamic Load Tasks. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Jan 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28072630/