Osteoarthritis (OA) Braces
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that commonly affects older adults. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints begins to wear away, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joint. As the disease progresses, the bones may rub against each other, causing further damage and pain.
Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the hands, hips, knees, and spine. Factors that increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis include age, genetics, obesity, previous joint injuries or surgeries, and repetitive stress on the joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis can vary in severity and may include pain or stiffness in the joint, a grating sensation when moving the joint, limited range of motion, and the formation of bone spurs around the affected joint.
Unloading knee braces, also known as off-loading knee braces, are a type of knee brace that is designed to shift the weight-bearing load from the affected side of the knee joint to the healthy side. These braces are often used to treat knee osteoarthritis, particularly in the medial compartment (inside part) of the knee joint.
The unloading knee brace works by applying a three-point pressure system to the knee joint. The brace is designed to exert pressure on the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and knee cap (patella). This pressure creates a force that shifts the weight-bearing load away from the damaged part of the joint, reducing the pain and discomfort associated with knee osteoarthritis.
Unloading knee braces are custom-fitted to each individual to ensure the proper alignment and pressure distribution. They’re typically made of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or plastic and can be worn during daily activities or physical exercise.
While unloading knee braces can provide significant pain relief for individuals with knee osteoarthritis, they’re not appropriate for all individuals or conditions. It’s important to consult with a medical professional to determine if an unloading knee brace is the appropriate treatment option.
Patellar Tracking Orthosis (PTO) Braces
A patella-tracking orthosis is a type of knee brace designed to help realign and stabilize the patella (kneecap) in individuals with patellar tracking disorder or patellofemoral pain syndrome. These conditions occur when the patella does not properly move in the femoral groove, causing pain and discomfort in the knee joint.
The patella tracking orthosis is typically made of a lightweight material such as neoprene or elastic and is designed to fit snugly around the knee joint. The brace contains a patellar buttress or pad that is positioned over the patella, helping to realign it and prevent it from shifting out of place.
In addition to the patellar buttress, some patella tracking orthoses may include additional features such as lateral straps or hinges to provide further support and stability to the knee joint.
The goal of the patella tracking orthosis is to improve patellar alignment and stability, reduce pain and discomfort in the knee joint, and improve functional outcomes such as walking and stair climbing. These braces are typically prescribed by a medical professional and may be used in conjunction with other treatments such as physical therapy or pain management.
A Word of Advice
We always encourage our patients to meet with their physicians to determine whether or not a knee brace can help with the overall treatment plan.