Knee support comes primarily in the form of knee braces. These devices take a number of forms and can be made from combinations of foam, elastic, straps, plastic and metal materials that can take shapes both visually appealing and purely practical. Different types of knee braces take different shapes and sizes, but all of them are intended to support knees that have suffered considerable pain or noticeable injuries. When a knee is injured in some way, giving it extra support is not a bad idea, though it seems as if everybody using these support systems has their own opinion about their effectiveness.
Support for knees comes in four major forms that are intended for different uses. Prophylactic braces are designed for use in sporting and athletic situations and are built to protect knees while the user engages in a contact sport like wrestling or football. Functional braces are a more reliable kind of support and are intended to support knees which have already sustained an injury. Even more serious are rehabilitative braces. These are both support and something of restraints intended to limit painful or even damaging knee movements while a knee is recovering from an injury or a surgical procedure on the knee. Unloader/offloader braces are similar to rehabilitative braces in their intent of providing serious relief after severe pain, but these supporting devices are built to provide relief for people with significant arthritis in their knees.
The effectiveness of these devices is something of a debated question. Scientific studies are inconclusive and these support devices do not work for everybody using them. Further, they tend to work better in laboratories under controlled conditions than they do in everyday life. That said, rehabilitative braces, unloader braces, and functional braces have proven the most effective over the years of their existence, but do help some people more than others. Prophylactic braces, however, may actually increase injuries in athletes, but this topic is likewise debated in medical circles. As with most medical appliances, the use of knee supports like braces should be done under the supervision of a medical professional rather than done at home.
These devices are generally used after injury to the knee or worse yet both knees. The exact type of knee brace prescribed will generally depend on the exact type of injury a knee has sustained, be it a crack in the knee cap or a painfully torn ligament. Sometimes these devices are used to tend to pain in the knee that doesn’t really improve with exercise intended to improve the strength and flexibility of that particular joint. However, like the use of men’s compression shorts, few doctors prescribe braces to stop knee injuries from happening. Use of a knee brace should be as directed by a doctor or other medical professional. Putting it on, users should be careful to ensure that the hinges are placed at the same spots where the knee bends naturally. Straps and tapes should be fastened firmly and the placement of the support system should be double checked frequently.