Why should you wear a knee brace?
Knee pain is a very common condition which might result into comorbidities if not managed efficiently. What causes knee pain might vary from inflammation of the tendons to fractures around the knee joint.
Whatever the cause, knee bracing is known to be effective in relieving the pain and improving knee function.
Knee bracing is strongly correlated with knee deformity and pathology.
However, braces are not only used to treat a painful knee. Some are designed to protect or support the knee whilst others to align or correct the anatomical architecture of the knee after an accident.
Therefore, bracing is classified according to the purpose it’s being used and to the presence or absence of a knee injury.
Are all knee braces the same?
Knee braces are indicated for a variety of reasons. Some of them are used to protect and others to treat.
Knee braces meant to protect are called prophylactic knee braces and are typically used to prevent knee injury in athletes or individuals in high risk of knee injury.
Sportsmen, for example, might need bracing to prevent injury of the medial collateral ligament of the knee, a quite commonly injured spot in professional athletes.
Another category is the functional brace. This type of bracing is therapeutic and is meant to support and help the healing process of an already injured knee, whether or not it is the consequence of a fracture.
Braces used for rehabilitation of an injured but treated knee are meant to help the knee gain its previous function progressively and to the maximum. Patello-femoral braces are strongly indicated in anterior knee pain because they profoundly relieve discomfort.
Practically speaking, knee braces can be rigid or soft, depending on the requirements of the treatment, rehabilitation or prevention and the budged of the buyer.
Soft braces are typically for those that require a general protection but with flexibility of the knee, such as the runners.
Rigid braces are more resistant to motion and might provide the buyer with more profound support. In other words, choosing the correct type of bracing depends on you, your requirements and how much you can afford.
However, choosing a rigid and heavier design would automatically mean that you plan to wearing it for a limited period of time during the day. The nature of your activity and the intensity of it, in accordance to your doctor’s advice, could help you choose the correct brace for you.
How long should you wear a knee brace?
Wearing a knee brace and expecting results means wearing it long-term. Many people have been wondering why they don’t see profound results after a week of wearing a knee brace.
The answer is that knee bracing goes along with commitment. Most individuals wearing a knee brace for a couple of days get frustrated due to lack of immediate results.
These are usually the ones already suffering from knee pain and requiring functional and therapeutic bracing. However, the knee is a joint meant to provide motion and support of the body.
When motion is performed in a painful knee, pain is exacerbated. This means that wearing a knee brace for just a week followed by back-to-normal knee activity, would actually worsen the condition of the knee instead of improving it.
Knee bracing is generally indicated as a long-term treatment which might last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
The severity of the injury together with the intensity of the pain are the criteria which would indicate how long you should wear a knee brace for.
Your doctor and his medical team might advice you to wear a knee brace for the minimum effective period or for the maximum effective period. The maximum effective period of bracing is usually up to 8 months.
In the end, it’s all about you and your commitment to the treatment. It is strongly recommended to discuss the period of bracing with your doctor and your sports consultant.
Should you wear a knee brace to bed?
Most people are wondering whether they can wear a knee brace while sleeping. Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with wearing a knee brace to bed.
However, sometimes you just don’t have to. Injuries of high severity might need persistent bracing even during sleeping, which might feel uncomfortable at first.
For other milder types of injury, bracing at night might not be necessary. Post-surgical knee bracing during the day and while sleeping might improve and shorten the healing process, leaving the individual brace-free sooner.
Another reason why wearing a knee brace at night might be beneficial is that occasionally, knee pain might be so intense to disturb your sleep.
Therefore knee bracing might reduce the pain and improve the quality of your sleep. As previously said, knee movement might exacerbate the pain. Thus, those that tend to move a lot while sleeping might benefit from knee bracing at night.
How to sleep with a knee brace?
Sleeping with a knee brace is not always pleasant. Some braces may be rigid and uncomfortable while others produce irritation or itching on the skin. However, there are some tips that may help reducing the discomfort of sleeping with a knee brace.
- Pillows. Pillows are useful in elevating the leg and isolating it from coming in contact with the other leg. Contact of the two legs while sleeping might produce pressure resulting in pain and discomfort.
- Loose the brace. If the brace is adjusted in a tight manner, you could possibly loosen it while sleeping, as much as it takes to make your sleep more pleasant. However, you should keep in mind that the knee must continue being immobilized.
- Ice. Applying ice on a painful knee reduces inflammation and consecutively, pain. Inflammation is characterized by a group of signs and symptoms, one of the being the heat produced in an inflamed joint. Ice will drop the temperature down and help you fall asleep easily.
- Change the brace. As already mentioned, braces can produce skin irritation and itching, along with sweating of the knee. The best solution to avoid that is having more than one braces, to switch when necessary.
How to wear a knee brace in bed?
Wearing a knee brace in bed might differ from wearing it while walking. Adjusting a knee brace for walking means allowing some kind of motion while keeping the knee stabilized and in place.
Sleeping, on the other hand, does not include any knee movement and it might need special adjustment of the knee brace. Adjustment of the knee brace is a procedure that should be individualized due to the variety of the knee injuries and the heterogeneity among the size and shapes of the human knee.
Thus, it should be done in accordance to your doctor’s advice. Your doctor will show you how to adjust your knee brace depending on the activity you plan on doing, whether this is sleeping or taking a walk.
Adjusting the brace is not a complicated thing to do as most modern braces have stripes meant to modify the bracing effect. A brace that fits is generally a very subjective sensation which depends on the person wearing the knee brace.
The individual wearing the brace has to simulate procedures such as walking or getting to bed and see how the brace feels. Generally a brace that falls down the knee is not a brace that fits properly. This stands regardless of whether you are awake or not.
How to wear a knee brace with pants?
Knee braces can be for mild, moderate or severe injuries. Mild injuries usually require a simple elastic and compressive brace ( a soft brace) while severe injuries might require heavier braces with bigger volume.
Therefore, quite many people are wondering how to wear a knee brace with pants. What is for sure, is that wearing a knee brace over your pants is not the best thing to do. Elastic braces usually are not the ones restricting you from normally wearing your pants. But rigid braces do.
Rigid braces occupy more space and they hardly fit on tight pants. Generally speaking, the brace should be applied directly on the skin, meaning that a brace over the pants would not be so effective.
Choosing looser pants would be a reasonable choice if the weather does not suggest short pants. Thus, the pants you choose to wear should firstly be comfortable and then fashionable, allowing your knee brace to be independently effective.
Knee braces can normally generate many questions in those required to wear them, and especially to those who should wear them for a long period of time.
However, they are designed in such a way to limit discomfort and bring you as close as possible to the quality of life you had before wearing a knee brace.
Knee braces come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, colors and types and it’s up to you and your doctor to decide which knee brace is the best for you.