Knee problems are very common among people of all ages. Athletes and active people can suffer knee injuries due to awkward motions, direct contact, or overuse, and individuals with arthritis often experience more significant pain in their knees than in any other joints. There are many different types of knee support devices available to provide cushioning and promote quick recovery. Many knee braces, wraps, and straps are designed specifically for certain kinds of knee problems, such as torn ligaments, injured kneecaps, or arthritis-induced joint pain. An individual with a mild knee problem may be able to purchase a device from a retail pharmacy or supermarket, though a serious knee problem should be inspected by a doctor, who can recommend a custom-fitted brace.
Some types of knee support are designed to provide general stability and protection to allow an injured knee to heal properly. An elastic bandage can be used to wrap a mildly injured knee joint, limiting its ability to move and bend. When properly used, a bandage can also help prevent excessive swelling and allow a person to engage in light physical activity. For moderate knee pain, a brace may be necessary to provide additional knee support. These braces are typically made of lightweight, elastic material that wrap around part of the upper and lower leg, with an opening for the knee. Many braces feature plastic or metal hinges on each side of the knee opening to ensure stability and prevent the knee from bending too far during activity.
An individual can usually find a knee support designed especially for a certain type of injury or condition. A torn ligament is one of the most common knee injuries, and there are many types of braces that provide very specific ligament support. A ligament knee brace is usually hinged on both sides of a knee opening, allowing for some bending but avoiding excessive up and down movement. Many braces have rigid metal or plastic bands that extend above and below the hinge to help prevent the knee from moving side-to-side. By stabilizing leg movement, strain is taken off of ligaments until they have healed.
A patella-stabilizing knee support is a type of brace or wrap that secures the kneecap after it has become dislodged or damaged. Braces usually look similar to those used for other knee injuries, though patella stabilizers have padding over the kneecap. Knee wraps can be used for less severe or recovering injuries, as they provide protection while allowing for a wider range of motion.
A person with arthritis or another condition that affects the knee joint may be able to find relief with a knee strap. These straps are elastic bands or pieces of padded material that fasten with Velcro®. They are attached just under the knee joint to provide support and slight compression. A strap takes tension off of the knee without limiting its range of motion.