If you have osteoarthritis, a valgus knee brace may buy you time, or allow you to avoid a knee joint replacement. This brace is recommended as a conservative treatment option by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Medial arthritis is the degeneration of the inside of the joint. Decreasing the load in this area can be effective in pain relief and can reduce the risk of further damage.
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Using an unloader brace gives you the benefit of pain relief without more invasive treatment, such as surgery. The unloader brace is more effective than other bracing options for osteoarthritis. According to the American Association of Family Physicians, patients gain relief from a knee sleeve, but greater benefits are experienced with the use of this brace. With the use of an unloader brace, you may be able to participate in many activities that would otherwise be too painful.
The valgus knee brace uses leverage to decrease stress to the medial, or inside, aspect of your knee, decreasing further wear and pain. This leverage is created by using pressure on the outside of your knee, opening the joint on the inside. This also allows for an improvement in alignment, which also helps to eliminate an abnormal gait or limp.
Valgus knee braces are available in a variety of styles and types. These range from a basic knee sleeve with a built-in unloader hinge, to a brace that is rigid and custom made to fit your exact measurements. The hinge may be preset, or have an adjustment allowing for an increase or decrease in load to meet your specific needs.
Getting the right type of brace for you will increase your success from its use. The size, style and fit are key in your comfort. Proper application is also a determining factor in its effectiveness. Your physician may determine the proper brace for you, or guide you to a trained bracing professional. Insurance may cover your brace if you have a prescription from your physician. Contact your insurance company to determine your benefits, and to assure that you obtain your brace from covered providers.
Seek medical attention for continued knee pain. Correct diagnosis of this condition is necessary for the brace to be effective. Using an unloader brace with bilateral osteoarthritis may not help your condition. A brace should be used in conjunction with, not as a substitute for, medical treatment.