Choosing the best patellar brace will depend on a variety of factors. The type and severity of your injury will be an influencing factor, because more severe conditions might require additional features, such as a hinged brace. Your level of activity also will be an influencing factor, as will whether the brace is to be used as part of a treatment program for a pre-existing injury or to minimize risk of incurring an injury. Your budget will also need to be taken into consideration, because prices of patellar braces vary widely, and it is important to remember that just because a particular brace is more expensive, it does not necessarily mean that it will be the best to suit your needs.
A patellar brace is used to support and stabilize the patella, which is commonly referred to as the kneecap, as well as providing support and relieving and equalizing the stress and forces applied to the tendons and ligaments surrounding the joint. The brace will limit any excessive and inappropriate movement, ensuring only anatomically correct movement of your kneecap. Patellar braces are commonly made from neoprene, which is a tough, durable, hard-wearing synthetic rubber. You most likely will want to opt for a breathable patellar brace, especially if you plan to wear it for long periods, because non-breathable varieties can be uncomfortably hot and sweaty. Most patellar braces have some form of padded buttresses to push the kneecap inward, ensuring that it stays in the femoral groove, which helps to prevent partial or complete dislocation of the patella and relieves pressure on the tendons and ligaments.
You must ensure that your choice of patellar brace fits correctly if it is to be of any use. If the brace is too loose, it will not function correctly and will provide little or no support. If the brace is too tight, you are at risk of causing pain, discomfort and injury to your patella, knee joint or tendons and ligaments, as well as experiencing complications caused by restricted circulation. Depending on the type and brand of patellar brace, you will need to measure around the widest part of your knee and possibly around the lower thigh to ensure that you select the correct size.
Patellar braces can be used during sporting activities to minimize the risk of injury, especially during activities that result in lots of stress on the joint, such as high-impact sports that require jumping and pivoting. If you have suffered a partial or complete patellar dislocation, your health professional might recommend that you wear a particular type of patellar brace as part of a rehabilitation program. Other conditions, such as arthritis of the knee, often benefit from the application of a patellar brace. Patellar tendinitis is a condition that involves the swelling and inflammation of the tendons connected to the patella, and a patellar brace might relieve painful symptoms and aid healing, because the brace relieves some of the stress placed on the patellar tendons.