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Knee braces can provide support to the knee joint. People may find these products beneficial following surgery or injury.

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Knee braces are devices that provide support, stability, or pressure on or around the knee. Often, their purpose is to provide support during injury recovery or help prevent an injury from worsening.

Learn about common knee injuries here.

A person can find knee braces for sale online or in certain physical stores. Individuals may wish to speak with a doctor, physical therapist, or another healthcare professional before purchasing knee braces to ensure they have the correct support for their needs.

There are many types of knee braces. Some may offer more support for a particular area of the knee.

A 2019 study distinguishes four main types of knee braces:

  • Functional braces: These reduce instability in the knee and protect and support the knee joint following an injury.
  • Prophylactic braces: People can wear these braces to help prevent or reduce the severity of knee injuries during contact sports.
  • Patellofemoral braces: These resist lateral displacement of the kneecap, decrease knee pain, and maintain alignment of the knee ligament.
  • Rehabilitative braces: These allow a person to have protected movement following an injury to or a surgical repair of the knee.

The authors of the study note that newer innovations in knee braces may add additional types and subtypes of braces that better describe their function. Therefore, people may wish to consult a physical therapist or another doctor to discuss which knee brace to use.

Knee braces can be a helpful therapeutic tool to provide support and pain management. A person or a doctor may consider knee braces to help with one or more of the following issues:

  • overuse injury to the knee
  • acute injury to the knee
  • post-surgery convalescence
  • support for osteoarthritis (OA)

Sometimes, people use knee braces to prevent injury. However, some evidence suggests that prophylactic braces that provide injury protection may not work.

The authors of a 2018 study tested how prophylactic braces protected the joints on human limbs. Their findings indicate that both rotational movements of the knee and anterior impacts may be safer for a person when they are not wearing a brace.

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These knee braces may help with stabilizing the knee, relieving pain, and providing extra support.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best functional knee brace: McDavid ELITE Bio-Logix Knee Brace

  • List price: from around $63
  • Materials: EVA, nylon, polyester, and spandex
  • Sizes: XS–XXL
  • Knee options: right and left knee options
  • Returns accepted: yes

McDavid ELITE Bio-Logix Knee Brace is a functional brace. The company says the brace can help with pain relief and provide stability and support for most knee injuries.

The brace has an additional compression sleeve and is available in various sizes.

Materials include ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), nylon, polyester, and Spandex.

This product is eligible for returns under Amazon’s return policy.

Best compression knee brace: DonJoy Advantage Deluxe Elastic Knee Brace

  • Price: from around $25
  • Materials: elastic, silicone
  • Sizes: S–XL
  • Knee options: fits either knee
  • Returns accepted: yes

DonJoy Elastic Knee Brace is a compression sleeve. The company states that the sleeve is suitable for those with mild sprains, strains, arthritis, swelling, and patellofemoral syndrome.

The sleeve comes in four sizes and two colors. Additional features include expansion panels for freedom of movement, an elastuc band to stop migration, and a slip-on design.

Materials include elastic and silicone.

DonJoy offers a 30-day money back guarantee. However, customers need to pay for return shipping.

Best for knee pain: McDavid Knee Support/Double Wrap

  • Price: from around $45
  • Material: latex-free neoprene, nylon, and spandex
  • Sizes: S–XL
  • Knee options: fits either knee
  • Returns accepted: yes

McDavid Knee Support/Double Wrap knee brace is lightweight and breathable. The company states this product may suit individuals with patellofemoral pain.

The brace fits either knee easily, has a lightweight design, and comes with a strap for stabilization and a strap for compression.

Materials include latex-free neoprene, nylon, and spandex.

The company’s returns policy is flexible and operates on a case-by-case basis.

Best for osteoarthritis: Superior Braces OA Unloader Knee Brace

  • List price: around $75
  • Materials: industrial-grade plastic and neoprene
  • Sizes: one size fits most
  • Knee options: right and left knee options
  • Returns accepted: yes

Superior Braces OA Unloader Knee Brace offers support for arthritis pain. The brace features a universal fit and single strap adjustment. It is also lightweight.

Materials include industrial-grade plastic and neoprene padding.

Returns are per Amazon rules.

Best hinged knee brace: Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Brace with Bilateral Hinges

  • Price: around $75
  • Materials: tempered aluminum, Hypalon sleeves, and spandex
  • Sizes: S–XXXL
  • Knee options: fits either knee
  • Returns accepted: yes

Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Brace with Bilateral Hinges may provide pain relief, stability, and injury prevention. It also comes in several adult sizes.

The brace’s features include shock absorption, adjustable straps, and support for conditions such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, patella instability, hyperextension, and ligament sprains.

Materials include tempered aluminum, Hypalon sleeves, and Spandex.

The company’s returns policy is flexible — Shock Doctor states it will approach returns and exchanges on a case-by-case basis.

The following table compares the knee braces in this article on materials, size, cost, and more.

List priceMaterialsSizesKnee optionsAccepts returns
from around $63• EVA
• nylon
• polyester
• spandex
XS–XXLright and left knee optionsyes
DonJoyfrom around $25• elastic
• silicone
S–XLfits either kneeyes
from around $45• neoprene
• nylon
• spandex
S–XLfits either kneeyes
around $75• plastic
• neoprene
one sizeright and left knee optionsyes
around $75• aluminum
• Hypalon
• spandex
S–XXXLfits either kneeyes

A person can consult a doctor, physical therapist, or another healthcare professional about the best brace for their particular injury or condition before purchasing this type of product.

Healthcare professionals may be able to direct people to the correct support for their individual needs.

Some additional factors to consider when purchasing a knee brace include:

  • Material: Some materials release moisture and are sturdier or feel better than others, all of which can affect comfort.
  • Cost and insurance: Insurance may not cover all knee braces — most plans will require a prescription to cover at least some of the cost. Medicare Part B may help cover the costs of some medical equipment. If a person has insurance, they can check with their insurance provider before purchasing a knee brace to make sure it covers the desired brace.
  • Type: Different types of knee braces may be more beneficial for certain injuries or conditions.
  • Support: Knee braces may support the outside or middle of the knee. Some knee braces may specify which area they support.
  • Size: Knee braces can come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different legs.
  • Left or right knee: Some braces are only suitable for the right or left knee.
  • Warranties and shipping: Companies may offer free shipping and warranties.

Healthcare professionals may refer people to an orthotist if they require the use of a knee brace. Orthotists build and fit braces to improve orthopedic function.

During an appointment with an orthotist, people will discuss the type of knee brace they require. Orthotists may recommend a ready-made or custom brace.

Custom braces are typically more expensive than ready-made products, so people may wish to check that their insurance provider covers some or all of the costs.

The knee plays an important role in movement and supporting the body. It is also prone to injury due to overuse and accidents.

The most common types of knee injuries include:

In a 2019 study, the researchers found that rehabilitative functional knee braces helped improve outcomes and protect the knee during the healing process. The researchers note that newer innovations in functional knee braces provided an improvement over older, static models.

However, a 2020 study investigating the effects of knee braces on ACL injuries found that both soft and rigid braces can lead to increased internal rotation, which has links to instability and unnatural cartilage loading.

Another study from 2019 also recommends against the use of knee braces for ACL injuries. The researchers note that the braces did not help improve the clinical outcomes of people with ACL-reconstructed knees.

Arthritis support

The Arthritis Foundation states that both rheumatoid arthritis and OA can affect a person’s knees. Knee braces can help support an individual with arthritis in this joint.

Knee braces may provide the following benefits:

  • helping relieve kneecap pain
  • supporting proper knee alignment
  • helping ligaments heal
  • improving confidence in the joint

Learn more about arthritis in the knee here.

A person should not self-diagnose knee pain or discomfort. When experiencing new or different pain, an individual should consult a doctor.

A healthcare professional may be able to determine the cause of the knee pain and offer recommendations for the best brace to buy.

If knee pain worsens or does not improve, people can revisit a doctor or physical therapist. Healthcare professionals may recommend further treatment.

The following are some frequently asked questions about these products.

Can a person wear knee braces all day?

A person should follow a healthcare professional’s instructions about how long they should wear a brace.

Individuals should also adhere to all instructions when putting the knee brace on to ensure proper fit.

Do knee braces weaken knees?

While knee braces usually aim to provide support and alignment, they can also help with pain relief by offering slight pressure.

Knee braces do not cause a person’s knees or legs to weaken and can encourage healing and rehabilitation.

Does a knee brace actually help?

Yes, knee braces may help certain conditions.

The Arthritis Foundation states that knee braces may be helpful for people with arthritis by providing pain relief and support.

Knee braces may also help protect the knee during the healing process, but some studies show that these products may negatively affect ACL injury recovery.

Knee braces can offer support and symptom relief for people with knee injuries or arthritis. A person may seek guidance from a doctor or physical therapist to determine which type of brace will work best for their needs.

Individuals should immediately contact a doctor if their knee pain does not get better or worsens when using a knee brace.