Knee pain is one of the most common complaints suffered by humans around the world. Knee pain can develop in a number of ways such as trauma and accidents, overuse and medical conditions such as arthritis.
Knee pain can be particularly difficult to deal with as it isn’t like an elbow or shoulder where we can keep moving, it affects your ability to walk, stand and sit.
Trying to remain active in your chosen sport or activity will be another challenge you will face when dealing with knee pain. Running, team sports, combat sports and weightlifting are all guilty of having a high incidence of knee pain development.
It’s kind of inevitable, at some point in life, especially if you are active you will get a form of knee pain, despite your best efforts. This is simply due to the knee being a main weight bearing joint and if you are using it a lot, the chances of pain developing are unavoidable.
What’s the solution though?
A knee brace is a great option for the treatment, management and rehabilitation of a variety of knee problems. Mcdavid produce a wide range of knee braces for all common knee pain issues – but which one is the right one for you?
This guide will look at the basics of knee braces but also review the choice of knee braces that Mcdavid offer so that you can choose the right support for your problem.
What is a knee brace?
A knee brace, put simply is an external support system which is designed to provide assistance to your knee in order to reduce pain, provide structural support and stability.
Knee braces can come in various shapes and sizes which are all designed to wrap around the knee and are typically adjustable to help provide the right level of fit, comfort and compression in some cases.
Different designs are necessary to target different areas of the knee and different parts of the anatomy and structure.
In more serious injuries such as full ligament ruptures you will require a maximum amount of support and the design of the brace will support the movement or direction that your knee may be unstable in.
If you have more of a painful knee rather than loss of function – the brace will be designed to compress and provide general support to take pressure off the knee and relieve pain.
There are other specific knee issues which we will address in the next section that are very minimal and target specific problems such as runner’s knee and this only requires a small amount of compression around a certain part of the knee to relieve pain.
Why Use a strap or brace?
The main reasons for knee brace use is to provide support, improve comfort, reduce pain and also to stabilise the knee joint.
Knee braces can be used:
- Pre injury / Exercise – for general support and comfort issues. Runners and weight lifters commonly use knee supports to facilitate their exercise
- Acute Injury – right after an injury your knee may be very painful and unstable, a support helps to improve it’s condition
- Post Surgery – if you have had a knee surgery, a brace may be useful in the early stages of your recovery to help your recovery and to keep your knee safe
- Rehabilitation – rehabbing from an injury can be a great time to use a knee brace, especially if you do not have much confidence in your knee or it is reduced in strength.
- Swelling management – compression and elevation are the number one strategies for reducing swelling on the knee – compression sleeves for the knees are a great way to do this.
- Manual labour – jobs such as construction and flooring roles may require you to be on your knees or walking a lot – use of knee braces whilst working can keep your knees protected and more comfortable.
McDavid have their own grading of knee supports in a simple 1-3 system, below are their descriptions of how their knee supports differ from least to maximum support.
- LEVEL 1 KNEE BRACES offer the least amount of support, but these braces are very flexible. These braces are best for moderate pain relief and moderate support when you want to remaining active or doing sports with your brace
- LEVEL 2 KNEE BRACES offer more protection than Level 1, but they aren’t quite as flexible. You can take wraparound knee braces and knee straps as an example. By using these products, you still have a good range of motion. They offer more moderate and mild support for knee pain caused by ligament instabilities and tendonitis.
- LEVEL 3 KNEE BRACES offer the most support and allow for the least movement. An example is a hinged knee brace. Keep in mind that this type of brace is also generally heavier. It’s best for recovering from a surgery, when knee movement should be limited to prevent re-injuring yourself. Level 3 braces are best for therapeutic recovery or post-surgical joint protection. To take it a step further, there is always the option of a 3+ Level for Maximum Protection. This level is best for aiding in pain relief and support for moderate to major instabilities and conditions.
Another option to consider with knee braces is about having an open patella space or closed patella space. This will mean that the knee cap is covered or will have a space left open for your knee cap to move.
Open patella knee braces are ideal for when you need the patella to be freer when moving and exercising or if there is discomfort around the kneecap but you still require support. If you do sports such as running, football or cycling, where the knee moves a lot repetitively, you may consider an open patella brace as this will help your knee to move freely whilst also giving it support.
A closed patella brace will be better suited to someone life a power or weight lifter who needs extra support and compression of their knee joint – they are generally more compressive in nature.
This then leads us on to choosing whether you need a sleeve design or more of an adjustable strap design. Sleeves are more compressive in nature and are not adjustable. If you are looking to reduce swelling and provide compression to the knee or a lot of support then sleeve designs are ideal. They are also great for weightlifting and mild knee pain issues.
An adjustable dual wrap design brace is not as bulky as a more comprehensive knee brace and is designed for mild knee pain. It can be easily taken on and off to provide support and adjusted to your support and comfort level.
Hinged knee braces are the maximum level of support that you can get from knee braces. These are typically required in the most severe of knee injuries and usually at early stages of a serious injury or in the early days after you have had major surgery. The design of these braces includes a comprehensive adjustable strap system but with the addition of hinges at the side that help to control flexion and extension of the knee when your knee may not be able to. The side hinges Also act as protection for the knee to reduce rotation or stress from the medial or lateral aspects. Hinged knee braces help to improve alignment, reduce movement and protect your knee when it is at its most vulnerable in order for you to recover.
Knee strap braces are the most minimal design and are specific to certain conditions. They are also known as patella straps and they fit just below the knee to deal with patella tendonitis, runners/jumpers knee and anterior knee pain. They work by providing compressive support on to the front of the knee which can help to reduce tension out of a painful tendon but also to compress, support and improve function.
McDavid Knee Braces available online
Here are 3 braces which are available from McDavid online. We have reviewerd 3 different braces all with different designs in order to help you choose the right knee brace.
McDavid Knee Support Strap Patella
This is McDavids patella knee pain support strap which comprises of a thin strap design. It is made from neoprene and is latex free to ensure a comfortable fit without irritation. The strap design is fully adjustable so that you can tighten or loosen this to provide the right amount of support to the front of the knee, especially the patella tendon. The closing system is an adjustable hook and loop system for extra security and features a non-slip buttress design so that it can stay in place securely around the patella tendon. This brace comes in at price of 22.95 euros.
McDavid Elite Bio-Logix™ Knee Support Brace
This is one of McDavids most comprehensive knee braces which is designed for maximum support of stability and control of movement. This type of brace should be considered following surgery or in the acute stages of serious traumatic injury.
They describe it as:
‘Semi-rigid lightweight + highly-supportive brace that helps with pain relief and support for various moderate to major instabilities and conditions’
The brace has to be chosen for the left or right knee specifically to ensure best fit, a lot of knee braces will be a one size fits left or right. This brace comes complete with a compressive knee sleeve which fits underneath to aid compression for comfort and swelling reduction.
On the side of the brace is a dual axis geared hinges – made of aluminium. This ensures smooth controlled movement and maximum support and strength at the outside and inside aspects of the knee.
If you have had an injury or surgery and need maximum support – seriously consider this brace for peace of mind.
McDavid Knee Support Sleeve
This support comes in 2 options – an open patella or closed patella design, as mentioned earlier this is obviously your preference for your knee pain, activity or function level.
The design of this knee brace is a pull on sleeve design which is made of neoprene, is latex free and has been outer stitched with nylon for extra strength, support and durability.
Comfort can be an issue when wearing supports and braces long term but this support has a seamless back which is designed to reduce irritation. This knee brace fits the left or right knee. The price is around 28 euros which is a reasonable price for a good quality compression sleeve.
That concludes our guides to knee supports and the range that is available at Mcdavid. If you have found this article helpful; and feel that it could benefit someone else, please send this to someone you know.
Go and check out McDavid’s website for a great range of supports for all parts of the body as they provide solutions to pain, discomfort and injury to help keep you active.