• 40% of all ACL injuries occur as a result of extreme sports
• You are 50% more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee following an ACL injury
• Ligament damage is graded from 1-3 in terms of its severity
The knee joint is particularly susceptible to both acute and chronic injury in those who play field and contact sports or who are involved in repetitive high-impact activities. Football, netball, distance running, basketball, running and martial arts are all associated with a high level of injury to the knee. The knee is a very important joint in all human locomotion, and injury to the area is often serious and recurring.
Common knee injuries
Common knee injuries in sport include cruciate ligament ruptures, torn cartilage, sprained and torn medial and lateral ligaments, patella tendonitis, runner's knee and arthritis. Wearing a knee brace or support is often recommended following knee surgery and during rehabilitation from a range of knee injuries. The brace provides support and stability while the injured ligament cartilage or tendons are healing.
Braces available differ in the level of support, construction material, the injury they are used for, style and price. The brace you choose will depend on a number of factors, including whether the injury is chronic or acute, the degree of damage, whether or not surgery has occurred and personal preference.
Low Cost Braces
Low-cost, basic-level supports provide protection and support for ongoing knee injuries. Advanced-level braces reduce forces through the knee joint and provide moderate levels of support. They tend be long-lasting and have a comfortable adjustable fit. Elite-level types of support provide maximum stability and are recommended following knee surgery and for knees that keep giving way. Knee pads provide protection for those who spend long periods of time kneeling.
Arthritis knee braces are specifically designed braces which help relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis. They improve the mechanics of the knee and take stress out of the arthritis-affected areas. These braces won't heal the condition, but they can delay the need for replacement surgery and improve knee function in the short and medium term. ACL braces provide maximum protection and stability and are recommended for use after reconstruction surgery and ligament ruptures.
Braces also come in a range of styles. Pull-up sleeves simply pull up over the knee and provide basic support, warmth and compression to the knee. They are suitable for minor injuries and knee pain. Wrap-around Velcro supports have adjustable straps which ensure a perfect fit and are ideal when swelling increases from time to time. Hinge braces utilise a range of hinges that support the knee joint and offload pressure at certain trigger points. They are suitable for moderate to severe pain and instability.
Knee straps are single or double straps which relieve knee tendon pressure. Straps are most suitable for conditions such as anterior knee pain, jumper's knee and ITBS. Magnetic braces have built-in magnets to reduce pain and improve healing. Neoprene braces retain heat in an attempt to reduce pain and swelling and promote healing.
A knee brace will provide support and reassurance when recovering from knee injuries or knee surgery, and there are supports available to cover most injuries and specific braces for conditions such as ACL ruptures and arthritis. A medical professional will be able to provide additional advice on which brace to choose.
The use of sports braces in the treatment of knee injuries is becoming more mainstream. Mark Rogers writes for the Össur Webshop and discusses the use of a knee brace in conjunction with other treatment options following injury. Original Article: What is a knee brace?