A custom knee brace can be a helpful addition to a patient’s treatment plan by allowing them to be more active, and experience less pain. It is important to note however, that these braces are not for everyone, and a thorough assessment of the knee should precede the decision to brace. There are two circumstances where a custom brace may be of benefit.
1) Ligamentous instability – if your injury has damaged one of the ligaments that provides support to the knee a brace can help to make up for the laxity (or looseness). The most common ligaments that are braced are ACL MCL and PCL (anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate respectively).
2) Unicompartmental Osteoarthritis – in this case the patient may have one compartment (one side) of the knee joint that has undergone excessive wear and as a result is painful with weight bearing activity. A custom unloader brace can help to shift some of the weight bearing to the healthy side of the knee and can allow the patient to be more active with less pain. It is important to note that for patients that have widespread arthritis where both compartments of the joint between the tibia and femur are painful this type of brace is not appropriate. A through examination is once again required.
The effectiveness of custom bracing depends strongly on an excellent fit. So if you are considering a brace of this type, be sure that the individual measuring and fitting your brace has plenty of experience, provides a fit guarantee and will be available for follow up should you have any future problems with your brace.