The Different Types of Knee Braces (And How to Choose the Right One)

Are you suffering from a knee injury?

Knee injuries can be one of the most debilitating injuries to deal with. Whether you’re suffering from a recent injury or chronic knee pain, you know just how tough it can be to get from one place to another with this type of injury.

To make your life a little easier, many therapists recommend knee braces. Whether you’re suffering from an ACL tear or a minor knee injury, a knee brace can help you get on the road to recovery.

But, what type of knee brace do you need?

Check out this guide to learn about the different types of knee braces and how to choose the right one.

What Is a Knee Brace? 

Before we dive into the different types of knee braces, let’s first talk about what exactly a knee brace is.

Simply put, knee braces provide support and protection for your knee. These braces restrict certain motions that could potentially exacerbate your condition. Additionally, braces support the knee and help keep it aligned.

While it’s best to consult your primary caregiver about when to wear a knee brace, in general, you should start wearing one when you start to experience knee pain or you want to prevent a previous knee injury from acting up.

Different injuries will require different types of knee braces, and different activities will feel better with different knee braces. So, the best knee brace for MCL and Meniscus will be different from the knee brace you use for arthritic pain.

The Different Types of Knee Braces 

Now that you know a bit about what a knee brace is, let’s dive into the different types of knee braces.

Custom Knee Brace

A custom knee brace is specifically made for your type of injury and to fit the mold of your knee.

To make a custom knee brace, your therapist will need to take several custom measurements of your knee. This way, they’ll be able to tailor the structure of the brace to provide you with the best support possible.

Besides increased protection and stability, these knee braces are especially beneficial because they are formulated to help you deal with your specific injury. Whether you’re suffering from a ligamentous injury, meniscal tear or knee sprain, this type of brace can help you recover quickly.

The only downside to a custom knee brace is that it tends to be the most expensive type of knee brace on the market. Typically, a custom knee brace will cost you at least $1000. However, most insurance companies will cover part or all of this cost, even if it’s not listed in your coverage details.

If your doctor recommends that you get a custom knee brace, make sure to call your insurance company first to see what kind of coverage you can get.

Hinged Knee Brace 

Hinged knee braces are typically used post-surgery by patients and athletes who need a higher level of protection and support for their knee.

This type of brace keeps your knee properly aligned when bending in order to help heal it and prevent further injury. Hinged knee braces are ideal for those who are suffering from more serious types of injuries, such as MCL, ACL, and LCL tears.

Additionally, athletes typically use hinged knee braces when they’re looking for extra stability and protection when engaging in mild activity after an injury. Hinged knee braces are either soft or rigid, with the rigid ones providing more support than the soft ones.

The only major downside to hinged knee braces is that they can sometimes be uncomfortable due to the rigid bars.

Slip-On Knee Brace/Sleeve

A slip-on knee brace, also known as a knee sleeve, is meant to slip on right over your knee. This type of brace compresses the knee, making it particularly useful when dealing with swelling and pain.

Those who are suffering from mild knee pain or are looking to minimize their arthritis symptoms will especially benefit from this type of brace. A sleeve is known also known for being very comfortable, and it can easily fit under your clothing. Additionally, this type of knee brace won’t limit your range of motion.

Wrap Around Knee Brace 

A wrap-around knee brace is ideal for athletes who are experiencing mild to moderate knee pain. It’s also great for anyone who is suffering from patellar instability or patellar dislocation.

A wrap-around brace helps keep your knee in place while also taking the stress off of it and allowing you to move around more easily. Wrap-around knee braces are lightweight and easy to put on and take off. However, they are less durable than some other types of knee braces.

Open vs Closed Patellar Knee Braces  

You may notice that some knee braces have openings at the cap while others are covered.

A brace with an open patella is meant to support the knee cap with tracking assistance as well as relieve pressure on the knee. A closed patella brace, on the other hand, helps with compression and general knee support.

If you’re unsure which option is better for you, consult with your doctor.

How to Choose a Knee Brace 

The best way to figure out which type of knee brace is for you is to consult with a healthcare professional.

Here’s a general wrap up of which knee brace goes with which injury:

  • Hinged Knee Brace: Best for severe injuries
  • Slip-On: Best for chronic pain and mild to moderate injuries
  • Custom: Best for serious injuries
  • Wrap-Around: Best for athletes with mild to moderate pain

If you’re wearing the wrong type of knee brace, there’s a chance that you could further exacerbate your pain. This is why it’s very important to consult with a doctor about choosing the right one.

Types of Knee Braces: Which One Will You Choose? 

Now that you know about the different types of knee braces, it’s time to choose the right one for your injury. Before you know it, you’ll be on the road to recovery thanks to your brace.

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more health-related tips and advice.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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