What are the Different Types of Knee Support?

D. Jeffress

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.

A person wearing a knee brace.
A person wearing a knee 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.

A person using an elastic bandage.
A person using an elastic bandage.

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 medical professional wrapping a person's knee with an elastic bandage.
A medical professional wrapping a person's knee with an elastic bandage.

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.

Athletes can suffer knee injuries due to awkward motions.
Athletes can suffer knee injuries due to awkward motions.

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.

If exercise causes knee pain, a type of knee support may help.
If exercise causes knee pain, a type of knee support may help.

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Discussion Comments

Talentryto

Though wearing a knee support brace is very helpful when you have knee pain or an injury, it is not beneficial to wear it long term. If you do, you will always feel that you need it and you will become dependent on it. Instead, wear a knee brace when you absolutely need it, and build the strength in your knee with exercises and physical therapy.

Rundocuri

Though it may sound silly, in a pinch, a long sock will work as a knee brace.

I was on a hiking trip once and sprained my knee. I didn't have access to a store where I could buy a knee brace, but I did have some long socks with me. I wrapped one around my knee, and it made it feel much better and provided just enough knee support until I could visit my doctor and get a real knee brace.

Heavanet

You don't have to spend a lot of money on a knee support brace to get the results you want. Value priced knee braces usually work just find, especially if you are having mild knee pain. You can find them at most any pharmacy or variety store.

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