Due to their rigorous and flexibility nature, prophylactic knee braces are some of the most commonly used braces both in the sporting world and in the medical field. These braces have been designed in such a manner that they protect the knee from injuries as well as decrease the level of severity that may be applied against the lateral collateral ligaments (LCL) and the medial collateral ligaments (MCL).
Unlike other types of knee braces which protect the knee after an injury, the prophylactic knee braces have been designed to protect the knee from an apparent injury. Prophylactic braces are made up of rigid bars which cover both sides of the knee, some hinges as well as non-elastic straps which provide sufficient support and protection to the knee. The hinges available on this knee brace provides an excellent and rigid support to the knees and is perfect for knee instability, as well as severe and moderate knee pain.
A prime example of a prophylactic knee brace is the hinged knee brace and the patellofemoral knee braces. The hinged knee brace provides an excellent support to your knee making it the ideal brace if you are suffering from severe knee pain and knee instability.
Unloader/Off-loader Knee Brace
These types of knee braces are some of the most preferred when it comes to orthosis. We can attribute this to the fact that these braces are primarily used to relieve pain usually associated with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a medical condition that weakens the body joints rendering them painful and making it hard for the affected individual to walk. In some severe cases, osteoarthritis can cause permanent disability. In modern medicine, unloader knee braces have been used to correct this problem. Apart from osteoarthritis, these braces have found their importance in providing knee stability, reducing knee pain as well as keeping in check knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Unloader knee braces function by reducing the amount of pressure applied to the knee by unloading stress/pressure on the on the affected joint and placing the same pressure on the thigh bone. This form of action allows the knee to bend away from the affected part hence reducing pain and discomfort. The braces also provide sufficient support as well as minimize the chances to undergo a surgical procedure. These braces are made up of a molded plastic/metal that maintains the overall brace, a foam liner that minimizes knee movement, steel braces and straps.
Rehabilitative Knee Braces
As the name suggests, these knee braces are used for rehabilitation purposes. What this means is that these braces limit the overall knee movement while the knee is undergoing the healing process primarily after a surgical procedure. These knee braces come with full-length bars which are located on both sides of the knees as well as hinges which can be adjusted to control the general movement of the injured knee. The side bars of these braces are encompassed in a comfortable foam liner. The foam liner provides maximum protection to the knee, thigh, and the calf. A total of 6-8 non-elastic straps which hold the leg and the brace are evenly located on the full-length bars.
Rehabilitative braces can be used to protect injured knee ligaments such as the PCL, LCL, ACL, MCL and the meniscus. The good thing about these braces is the fact that they provide a room for swelling and hence you don't have to be worried about exerting maximum pressure on your swollen knee when wearing the rehabilitative knee brace. Another great thing about this knee brace is the fact that you can easily remove it as well as manipulate it from one motion to another.
Functional Knee Braces
Functional knee braces are mainly used after a knee injury, unlike the prophylactic knee braces which are worn to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a knee injury. Different types of functional knee braces are available to choose from. These braces are used to treat PCL, ACL, LCL and MCL related knee injuries. Since a good number of different functional knee braces are available, the type of brace you choose or the type that your doctor will recommend will highly depend on the type of injury.
The functional knee braces have been designed to reduce the overall knee instability. They're primarily recommended for sporting and extraneous working individuals who participate in jumping, pivoting, cutting and twisting activities. Apart from reducing knee instability, these braces can also be used to prevent further damage to the surrounding regions of the knees. The good thing about functional braces is the fact that they are made up of composite bars which are rigid enough to prevent or limit the rate of hyperextension subjected to the injured knee. Because some functional knee braces are made up of neoprene materials, some users have complained of skin rashes and irritation when using these braces. The neoprene materials are also uncomfortable to wear during the hot seasons as they become hot and sweaty which can be uncomfortable to some users. A point to note is the fact that functional knee braces do not return the injured knee to its original stability. All it does is to reduce the amount of pressure applied to the injured knee and prevent further damage.
Knee sleeves also known as knee immobilizers, or knee straps are simple types of knee braces that play a much-simplified role when it comes to controlling knee related problems. Knee sleeves function by applying considerable pressure on the knee joint so as to reduce knee pain. The pressure applied also provides knee stability. Unlike other types of knee braces, the knee sleeves are light and overly easy to wear and use.
Knee sleeves are usually made up of drytex, Polartec and neoprene materials. These types of readily available materials make this knee sleeves the cheapest amongst other types of knee support materials. In general, knee sleeves are ideal for reducing knee pain, maintaining knee stability as well as reducing knee strain. The majority of the people who use these sleeves are tennis players, long-distance walkers, and joggers. Due to their simplified nature, these braces can't be used to keep in check a severe knee injury or post-operative rehabilitation.
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