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Archive for April, 2012

Knee Brace

April 30, 2012

Where does a knee brace fit into my osteoarthritis treatment program?

Different knee braces should be used throughout your entire treatment regimen.  A neoprene sleeve can be effective during the early stages of osteoarthritis.  The warmth and compression can really help with pain relief and stability.  Also the compression will lead to increased blood flow to the knee joint.  If knee pain can be reduced so you take just one less pill per day, think about the long term effects this could have regarding your overall health.

If your arthritis is moderate to severe an unloading knee brace might be an appropriate treatment option.  These are knee orthotics that require prescriptions.  A knee brace of this type produces a bio-mechanical fulcrum that can open a collapsing joint space.  An unloading knee brace needs to be prescribed by your doctor, and that prescription should be fit by a certified orthotist.




Exercise, eating right, stretching, and weight loss are all important when it comes to controlling the pain associated with osteoarthritis.  This means lifestyle modifications.  A simple exercise and stretching program coupled with a change in diet can make a huge impact on the way your knees move and feel.  Think about all the other aspects of your life this will effect in a positive way.

And it doesn’t cost anything.  Walk and stretch everyday.  Eat fruit instead of chips and salsa.  No prescriptions.  No pharmacies.  No waiting rooms.  No co-pays.  It can’t hurt to try.

Relying solely on drugs will make the pain go away, but not what is causing the problems.  The drugs will not work forever.  And more importantly the drugs and medications will lead to other health problems not related to your knee pain.  Drugs address the symptoms not the disease.

Lifestyle modification is a necessary knee arthritis treatment for many patients.

Hinged Knee Brace

April 24, 2012

A hinged knee brace can be an appropriate treatment option for osteoarthritis.  There are a couple different reasons why a knee brace for OA requires hinges.

The first is in regards to neoprene knee sleeves.  A neoprene knee sleeve will provide warmth and compression to an arthritic knee.  This helps the joint feel better.  Adding hinges to a neoprene sleeve will provide additional protection and stability.  This is appropriate when the knee is lax or gives out.

Hinges on an Unloading Knee brace are a necessity.  Hinges are part of the system that applies three point pressure to the knee joint.  It is this fulcrum that provides pain relief.

If you read it once you read it a thousand times – one of the best treatment options for knee osteoarthritis is exercise.  Stand up and get those joints moving.  The simple act of walking helps lubricate the knee joint.  Whatever activity you choose remember that the idea is to bend the knee.

Cartilage is made up mostly of water.  That water needs to move around to keep your knee healthy.  The  fluid in your knee contains all the things needed to keep your cartilage healthy.  Bending your knee helps force that fluid to the places it needs to get to.

What’s the best way to keep a door hinge from squeaking?  Oil the hinge or don’t use the door.  Bending the knee is a great help for arthritic knees – it’s like oiling a squeaky door hinge.

Cold Knee Wraps

April 18, 2012

Cold knee wraps are great to use if you require regular cold therapy.  Frozen peas, ice packs with ace bandages, or frozen paper cups of water are great for short-term use.  But if you are going to be icing your knee regularly a cold knee wrap will make your therapy time a bit easier.  For one thing you can get up and walk around if you have to.  Also, you don’t have to worry about your frozen peas repeatedly freezing and thawing.  Or worse, picking thawed mushy peas from between your cushions or out of the carpet.

Have you experienced a leaking ice pack yet?




Patients who are prescribed braces for osteoarthritis of the knee need to understand how to put the braces on.

The straps on many Unloading Knee Braces must be applied in a specific order.  Also legs are required to be in a certain position when braces are being strapped on.  There are usually extra pads, liners, and condyle pads included with the brace.  Miscellaneous items like hinge lubricant, extension stops, and under-sleeves usually wind up with the patient as well.  Patients need to understand what all of this stuff is for.

Patients need to be educated on every aspect of the brace.  That is what health insurance pays for.  Health insurance covers a lot more than just the measuring and fitting of the brace.  That  coverage also covers patient education.

A good practitioner will require a follow up one to two weeks after the knee brace is dispensed.  This follow up is to ensure the brace fits well, it is doing its job, and that the patient understands how to wear it.

How will an arthritis knee support effect my skin?  What if I’m allergic to neoprene?

Patients are concerned that arthritis knee supports made of neoprene will give them a rash.  Skin conditions while wearing neoprene braces are easily avoided.  Patients need to treat their knee sleeves like their socks.  Arthritis knee supports need to be washed and dried regularly.  How long would you wear a pair of socks without washing them?

People who suffer from rashes while wearing neoprene braces generally aren’t washing them enough.  Neoprene encourages warmth and compression, this combination will also encourage sweat.  How long can you wear the same pair of socks without washing them before your feet will develop skin problems.

Most people are not allergic to neoprene.  They have problems with all the dirt and bacteria trapped in their brace.

Neoprene braces need to be washed regularly, in the sink is fine.  Cold water and a mild detergent will get the job done.  Let the brace air dry in the strainer, don’t put it in the clothes dryer.

Patients that truly have a neoprene allergy should try an elastic brace, or a neoprene brace with a liner that prevents the neoprene from touching the skin.

Will insurance pay for an arthritis knee brace?  Yes.

Medicare, Medicaid, and most HMO’s and PPO’s will reimburse providers for the application of an arthritis knee brace.  The “Durable Medical Equipment” rider of the policy will explain what is covered and deductibles.

Generally health insurance will pay for a knee brace if the patient has documented osteoarthritis of the knee, and a valid prescription.  Some states require the person measuring and fitting the knee brace to have certain levels of certification.  Usually a person is eligible for a knee brace if they have not received the same or similar type of orthopedic appliance within the past three years.

Insurance is willing to reimburse for arthritis knee braces because this treatment option for osteoarthritis of the knee saves them money.  Knee braces are much less expensive than surgery.  Also, knee braces do not react with medications or cause the stomach issues commonly associated with drugs.  Sick patients cost insurance companies money.

An insurance company would much rather pay for a knee brace than to continually pay for medication or reimburse a surgeon.





 There are many different options available for arthritic knee treatment.

  • Acupuncture
  • Cold Therapy
  • Neoprene Knee Sleeves
  • Magnetic Therapy
  • Unloading Knee Braces
  • Canes
  • Steroids
  • Disease Modification
  • Drugs
  • Exercise
  • Joint Health Supplements
  • Lateral Heel Wedges
  • Lifestyle Modification
  • Physical Therapy
  • Strength Training
  • Stretching
  • Surgery
  • Viscosupplementation
  • Weight Loss
Only the person with the pain is going to be able to decide which works best.  A good place to start is with weight loss, stretching, and  exercise.  Cold therapy, magnetic therapy, knee braces and physical therapy are all great conservative treatment options to consider.  Stay away from drugs, injections, and surgery until you exhaust the treatment options that won’t hurt you.


There is a lot to consider when buying a knee brace for arthritis.  Where to begin?

Your first step is at the doctor’s office.  You need to know what is going on inside your knee joint.  The knee slides, glides, and rotates.  There are ligaments, cartilage, bones, and tendons to consider.  Knee braces accomplish different goals.  You need to understand why your knee hurts or gives out before you brace it.

If you are confident the knee pain stems from osteoarthritis, there are a few different braces to consider.  A simple neoprene knee brace will work fine for mild arthritis pain. The neoprene will provide warmth and compression as well as offer some support.

If you have knee cap problems as well as arthritis then you may want to consider a neoprene knee sleeve with a patella buttress.  The buttress will help control the knee cap.

If you have moderate to significant pain than a hard-shell unloading type of arthritic knee brace may work best.  These knee braces require a prescription and must be measured for and fit by certified orthotists.  These knee braces will change the bio-mechanics of your body.

So to recap, first figure out what is wrong and what work needs to be done.  Then choose the right tool for the job.