How is Knee OA treated?
In later stages of knee osteoarthritis (for example, Stage 4), irreversible damages may have been caused to the knee joint. Knee surgery is typically the final option to relieve your knee of pain. Early diagnosis and non-surgical treatments can be used to help to reduce knee pain, limit further worsening of the knee joint; possibly delaying or removing the need for knee surgery.
The diagram above shows all the available treatment options prescribed for knee OA, as the intensity of pain increases. According to the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis; even with oral medication or injection options, the need for knee replacement surgery increases within 10 years of and osteoarthitis diagnosis.
As you observe the graph, the red arrow shows how using knee braces delays the need for surgery and the reduction of knee pain. Customised knee braces are biomechanical interventions designed to relieve pain, offload the knee joint compartments, correct deformities – delaying the negative progression of knee osteoarthritis. This helps individuals stay active longer in comfort.
How do knee braces help with osteoarthitis?
Unloader / Off loader braces offer a non-operative method of realigning your osteoarthritis knee. These realignments in the knee joint shift the load away from the degenerative areas and reduce the mechanical stresses.
The main function of an unloader brace is to provide pain relief by reducing the inner or outer load on the knee through the application of opposing external moment at the knee joint. The forces applied through the brace will lessen the external knee moment – reducing the medial or lateral shift of the knee joint.
The picture above is an example of the effect of the force acting by the Sakima brace using three-point loading mechanism to minimize the deformity at the knee joint which helps to lower the medial compression at the knee. The area closer to the hinge joint axis (natural knee joint axis) achieves higher rigidity, and the area closer to the end achieves higher flexibility.
Benefits of Knee Braces
- Braces help to relieve your knee pain with mechanical unloading.
- Braces delay the need for surgery. This helps to delay all of your post-op stresses, hospitalization operative management and activity limitation that you will experience after a knee surgery.
- Knee braces increase the gap between the bone ends; reducing the compressive forces between the bone plates which helps to extend the effect of injections; making it a safe, complementary method.
- They increase the gap between the knee bones; preventing bone to bone friction and allowing smooth knee movements.
- According to the Osteoarthritis Research Society International?s new guidelines for managing knee OA, off-loader knee braces are able to reduce pain and improve stability followed by evidence-based and expert consensus that the braces were effective.
- According to the American Association for Orthopedic Surgeons, knee braces are the only treatment option that can be introduced to OA knees with any other associated health conditions, as some oral medications and injections are not suitable for patients with OA and other health issues.