8 Best Knee Braces for Arthritis for 2024

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When you have osteoarthritis in your knees, even daily activities like walking can cause pain. Research shows a knee brace may help. Here are products from ACE, Vive, Shock Doctor, and more to help keep you moving.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition that can affect any of your joints.

In OA, the protective cartilage that cushions your joints gradually deteriorates, causing increased friction between the bones. This friction contributes to pain and stiffness, ultimately limiting your range of motion.

If you have OA in your knees, a brace may help. A knee brace can support the joint as you walk, possibly reducing the amount of friction and subsequent pain. It may also make you feel more stable in everyday activities.

Many knee braces are available, but not all of them work well for arthritis. In this article, we share which may help for a range of activities if you have osteoarthritis in your knees.

While knee braces may provide considerable relief and symptom improvement for arthritis, several factors influence their effectiveness, including the specific type of brace.

Types of knee braces include:

  • Unloader/offloader knee braces: These braces help shift weight away from the affected part of your knee, reducing pain from knee osteoarthritis and improving mobility. They are ideal for moderate to severe arthritis in active people. However, they are relatively cumbersome.
  • Customized braces: Customization allows for a more precise fit and load distribution, which can enhance the benefits of the brace and reduce the risk of injury or discomfort. Custom-fitted knee braces, particularly unloader braces, are often more effective than off-the-shelf braces.
  • Soft braces: These flexible, comfortable braces provide support and relief. Soft braces have also been shown to relieve OA-related pain. They are ideal if you run or play sports.
  • Hinged knee braces: Hinged braces facilitate controlled movement, providing support and stability to help make daily activities and exercise more manageable.

We selected the knee braces for arthritis on this list based on the following criteria:

  • Verified customer reviews: We read hundreds of customer reviews to get a feel for what people love about these products and the red flags to look out for.
  • Peer-reviewed literature: Dozens of published, peer-reviewed studies have investigated whether knee braces help with arthritis pain and other symptoms. We used these studies to determine what was most important in a knee brace for arthritis (see below for more information).
  • Materials and construction: We looked for durable and, wherever possible, washable products so they’ll last you a long time.
  • Brand reputation: We looked at each company’s reputation to ensure customers can confidently trust the product’s safety, quality, and effectiveness. We also favored companies with excellent customer service policies.

All knee braces on this list aim to help stabilize the knee joint, minimizing the pain you experience during your daily activities. Additionally, they may enhance the comfort of certain movements and prevent potentially harmful ones.

Different types of braces work for different people. Some people with OA find a lot of relief and improvement of their symptoms with braces, while studies show that others may not.

Hinged knee braces, as well as general knee braces for arthritis, may help improve functional outcomes, such as walking and exercise, for people with knee osteoarthritis.

In a 2017 study of people with osteoarthritis, participants wearing a soft knee brace had lower pain levels while walking and took less time to complete a 10-kilometer walk than when not wearing a knee brace. Wearing a tight brace was found to help reduce walking time even more.

For people with rheumatoid arthritis, some rheumatologists prescribe medical-grade braces as a first-line treatment for pain in the knee.

Research has also shown that knee braces can be more effective in managing knee osteoarthritis when combined with other treatments, such as physical therapy, exercise, and weight management.

Notably, there is limited long-term research on the benefits of knee braces for osteoarthritis. It’s essential to discuss with your healthcare professional whether using a knee brace for arthritis is appropriate for your long-term management plan.

To choose the best knee brace for your needs, consider the following:

  • Type: Decide if you prefer a sleeve or wraparound design. Some braces feature hinges, an open patella, and a padded knee ring.
  • Support level: Decide how much support you want, which may vary during different activities. High-support braces may restrict mobility, and low-support options offer more flexibility.
  • Comfort and fit: Choose a lightweight, breathable, supportive, yet comfortable fabric. If you have sensitive skin, look for moisture-wicking fabric and a nonirritating design. Consider the bulkiness and if you can get it on and off easily.
  • Size options: Take measurements accurately for arthritis knee braces with several sizes to ensure the correct fit. For adjustable designs, make sure your size is within the range. Custom braces are also available.
  • Customer reviews: Read online reviews, paying attention to those that mention your needs, such as athletic support, injury recovery, and pain relief.
  • Price: If you want a durable, high-support brace, plan to spend more. You may have to replace inexpensive designs more frequently.

  • difficulty moving your knee during daily activities
  • stiffness and tenderness in your knee
  • knees or other joints that appear flushed or feel warm to the touch

Also, if you have arthritis on one side only, you might benefit from a prescription unloader brace. Talking with a doctor about the specifics of your osteoarthritis can help you decide which brace might be best for your needs.

If you have arthritis, wearing a well-fitting knee brace can help support and stabilize your knee, reducing pain and improving movement.

Many studies show pain relief and better knee function when people wear knee braces.

More research is needed on the long-term benefits of knee braces and comparing the different types of knee braces. Factors such as the type and severity of OA, age, body weight, activity level, and overall joint health can influence the outcomes.

However, while a knee brace can help alleviate symptoms, it’s unknown whether wearing a knee brace will slow the progression of OA.

To determine the most suitable knee brace for your situation, healthcare professionals consider your needs and factors such as the nature and severity of your knee issue, the level of support required, and your overall health. 

Wearing a knee brace can help manage knee pain and enhance stability, especially if it fits well. However, it’s essential to address the root cause of the pain. 

Knee braces may help keep your knee joint in proper alignment or provide support throughout your day-to-day activities. These braces can help you feel more empowered to do what you want while managing arthritis pain. You can speak with a doctor if you have frequent joint pain limiting your mobility.

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