Knee Braces

Some physical therapists have long considered knee braces as detrimental to future knee health. Afterall, why do we want to teach our patients to be dependent on knee braces when we can solve their knee pain through knee strengthening and teaching proper biomechanics? Some physical therapists may also purport knee braces causing perpetual weakness in surrounding knee mucles through dependency on external support, which could lead to knee injuries.

However, a recent research study made by Callaghan et al. proves the opposite. They measured the effects of a flexible knee brace on maximum contractions of the quadriceps muscle on 108 participant over 3 months. What they found was that there was no measurable significant difference in maximum voluntary contractions between brace and no-brace-wearing groups.

Effectively, we recommend knee braces and wrist/hand braces when a patient comes in with suspected ligamentous and tendinous damage/strain. The brace helps not only to cue and remind the patient to watch their biomechanics, but may aid them in attaining this a little easier. Also, braces supplant external support to joints, that are originally stabilized by tendons, muscles and ligaments. This external support usually helps the injured patient alleviate some of their pain as they are going through the healing process.

What is consistently found in the clinic, however, is that disuse atrophy (muscle weakness from non-use) is more the reason for perpetuating weakness in the limb. This occurs when patients turn off muscles of the affected extremity because they want to ‘baby’ or ‘rest’ the limb to prevent further pain. Though bracing has an indirect relationship with this disuse, research shows it is not a causative factor.

To prevent this disuse atrophy, muscles have to be continually retrained and strengthened so the joint gains its support system back. The most effective healing scenario is when the body is strengthened and retrained using healthy body mechanics. This is done through physical therapy and series of graduated exercises.

So in conclusion, when you suspect you might have injured a joint, do not hesitate to use a brace to alleviate some of your discomfort – but make sure you do the necessary steps to retrain the appropriate muscles so you get back to a healthier way of moving as you heal.

-Callaghan et al. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2015. Vol: 0 Issue: 0, pp. 1-24.

By Alice Holland, DPT.
Alice’s Google + page.

Ana Lucia Pinheiro
Ana Lucia Pinheiro
02:18 20 Oct 17
This place is amazing. I am so happy I found Stride Strong PT. Alice pays attention to all of the details, she watches every single move I make, my posture, and the way I move through every exercise. She is very knowledgeable, she was able to pin-point the problems in my back and she has a plan to help me become stronger where I need. The place is brand new, huge, and has nice exercise machines. I tried a few physical therapists in the area, and Alice is TOP, second to none, and I feel super lucky to have found her. Highly recommended!!
Prashant Gupta
Prashant Gupta
01:00 02 Oct 17
Dr. Alice at Stride Strong is one of the best PTs I have come across. Her attention to detail and assessment of the root cause of injury is very good. She is excellent in evaluating pain patterns and giving a training schedule for a rehab & injury prevention, she is extremely knowledgeable. I would strongly recommend Stride Strong to anyone looking for PT. It is easily the best PT clinics in Hillsboro area.
steven zollin
steven zollin
20:57 14 Sep 17
Highly recommend Stride Strong Physical Therapy , Alice showed me proper form to assist in recovery with my shoulder and is very knowledgeable.
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