What you can expectBy Mayo Clinic staff
Few studies have compared the many styles of knee braces with each other. The best bet is to speak up about your preferences and let the orthotist's expertise guide you in making a choice. In general, all knee braces fall into one of these categories:
- Off-the-shelf knee braces. These knee braces are ready-made in several sizes. Some designs allow you to adjust the pressure they apply to your knee, depending on how much support you need for different activities and at different times of day. If you find an off-the-shelf brace that fits you well, you may be able to take it home immediately.
- Custom knee braces. Custom knee braces are designed and built to fit your exact measurements. It takes time to build a custom knee brace, though, so be prepared to wait a few weeks to receive it. When your custom brace is ready, the orthotist will check the fit before you take it home.
During your knee brace fitting
You may adjust to wearing a knee brace more quickly if you start with a good fit, which is the goal of working with an orthotist. During the fitting, the orthotist may:
- Examine your knee
- Ask about your history of knee arthritis and the symptoms that trouble you most
- Ask what activities you hope to increase by wearing a knee brace
- Ask you to walk a few paces to show how your knee functions
- Take several measurements of your leg to determine what size you need in an off-the-shelf brace or to achieve a near-perfect fit in a custom brace
- Discuss the pros and cons of off-the-shelf and custom braces
- Explain how knee brace designs differ from each other
- Have you try various knee braces to determine what style feels best and is easiest for you to use
After your knee brace fitting
With help from the orthotist, you'll learn how to put on and take off the knee brace and how to tell whether it needs adjustment. You may walk around to try out your brace.
Follow the orthotist's or your doctor's instructions about when to wear your knee brace. You may wear it only during continuous activity, such as walking, or you may find it beneficial to wear the brace most of the day.
The muscles around your knee may become weakened if you rely only on the knee brace, so take occasional breaks from wearing it. Also continue the exercises or therapy program recommended by your doctor or your physical therapist.
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