When we’re bouncing around in our 20s and 30s, there’s generally no need for most of us to give arthritis a second thought…why would we? In this phase of our adult life, the majority of us are fit and healthy enough to be able to do whatever we want to do day to day.
As we progress towards later stages of life though, many people start to experience aches and pains and other difficulties that simply never crossed their mind before. In my opinion, it’s all our amazing medical technology that’s the problem—well kinda!
Archaeological biologists estimate that for our neanderthal ancestors, old age occurred at around the same age that we consider to be middle age. We now live longer because of many factors, including readily available food and water sources, and because of the massive developments in the quality of medical knowledge and care.
In some cases, people may be living up to twice as long. This means we’re demanding that the soft tissues in our weight-bearing joints also last twice as long as they originally needed to. Imagine expecting one of of the first ever cars to perform 100 percent better with no design modifications. Now that’s a big ask—even our incredibly clever bodies!
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an estimated 50 million new diagnoses of arthritis in US adults every year, with expectations of an increase to approximately 78 million by the year 2040.
So for around one in four of us, arthritis either is or will be a problem we need to manage. While many people know it’s beneficial to keep active to maintain good health, it can be difficult to know what to do when managing a health issue concerned with wear and tear.
The most simple answer is to find a balance of enough exercise to keep your body healthy and strong and avoid excessive high impact, high repetition work that increases the force being directed through the knee. Using a knee brace can help support the knee to make an active daily life and sports participation easier.
So here’s more about knee braces, what they can do and how to find the best knee brace for arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
There are many different forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis, to name a few. Arthritis is an umbrella term that covers a range of conditions, all with a few things in common.
All types of arthritis are concerned with the soft tissues inside a joint—specifically, it’s a type of cartilage that’s primarily affected. The ends of our long bones are covered with a tough, smooth type of soft tissue called articular hyaline cartilage.
This cartilage helps to allow the bones to move smoothly, reducing the amount of friction. It also helps absorb shock which occurs when we bear weight through a joint. Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis that happens most commonly as we age. The hyaline cartilage protecting the ends of the bones deteriorates, exposing the more sensitive bony tissue underneath, and this can cause pain and inflammation.
Psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis are specific diseases linked with problems in the immune system. It appears to perceive a problem with a joint as an attack on the body, and responds by sending out its army of specialized cells to attack the joints involved. This can cause joint pain, inflammation and damage, and can be debilitating.
Through research, we have learned a lot about arthritis, but we don’t fully understand everything about all forms of arthritis. We do know, however, that there’s always an inflammatory component. Arthritis can’t be cured—there’s no magic pill.
Treatment is aimed at regulating and trying to decrease pain levels, minimizing further joint damage, maintaining as much range of movement and function as possible and managing inflammation.
With the knee, in it’s mid-leg position, being particularly vulnerable to osteoarthritis, it’s important to keep as active as possible, and a knee brace can help people to do this while providing some reassurance and support.
What Does a Knee Brace for Arthritis Do?
Knee braces help with arthritis in lots of different ways. They can help to:
- Provide general compression.
- Reduce lateral movement.
- Aid patellar movement via compression.
- Prevent knee hyperextension.
- Keep the knee warm.
All of these factors can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. There isn’t, however, hard, scientific evidence that knee braces can treat the cause of the problem.
Below, you can see a quick video of Dr Matthew Lawless discussing the use of knee braces for arthritis:
Precautions for Use
Always use a knee brace according to the manufacturer’s or health professional’s instructions. Be aware that some braces are not designed for overnight use, and this should be clearly stated.
Make sure the brace isn’t fitted too tightly—you should be able to slide a finger comfortably between your leg and the brace.
If using a knee brace which includes magnetic technology, refer closely to the manufacturer’s instructions for use. It’s very important to be aware that magnets can interfere with some medical devices, including pacemakers. If you’re in any doubt, don’t use magnetic therapy before consulting your medical care professional.
What Is the Best Knee Brace for Arthritis?
In the search for the best knee brace for arthritis, we’ve hunted through the plethora of different braces around. Here are five top-quality options we came up with. Each one has been put through its paces to reveal the positive and negative points to make it easy for you to see which one might best suit your needs.
Knee braces can be very useful pieces of equipment that can help support the knee during everyday activities as well as for sport and exercise. The vast majority of people had something positive to say about all of the five braces we reviewed.
When it came to choosing the best knee brace knee brace for arthritis, however, the Simple Health Knee Support Sleeve Wrap was a clear winner. People found it very easy to put on, to get into the correct position, and to remove at the end of the day. During use, almost everyone found it to be comfortable, and were impressed with the level of support.
Users commented on the combination of the three straps, which in the vast majority of cases helped to achieve a snug, secure fit and make sure that this barce didn’t slip down at inconvenient moments, like in the middle of working out.
The really surprising thing about this brace is how well it stands up to fierce competition from other much more expensive brands. Some people even commented that it worked better than other much more costly brands they’d tried in the past.
So—great performance for the vast majority of users, offered at great value for money from an established manufacturer that offers a lifetime money back guarantee—to be honest, there’s not a lot to dislike!