Keeping Skin Healthy While Wearing Your Knee Brace
When you first wear a knee brace, you are introducing a new device to your skin. While knee braces are designed to make you feel more comfortable, they can sometimes cause the skin to become irritated or painful.
Skin integrity is the health of your skin. It is important that you and your healthcare team consider skin integrity when fitting for knee braces. This is especially the case for older adults whose skin is more vulnerable to damage.
There are a number of ways to keep your skin healthy while wearing your knee brace. First, let’s break down why you may be experiencing skin integrity issues when wearing your brace.
Skin Integrity Issues
Older adults are more at risk for skin integrity issues. As we age, our skin loses elasticity. Elasticity is a property of our skin tissue that allows it to stretch yet also go back to its original form. For older patients, decreased elasticity makes it harder for knee braces to stay on. Decreased elasticity also makes the skin more vulnerable to breakage. To prevent knee braces from sliding down, they have to be on pretty tight. However, this tightness can cause rubbing and damage to the skin.
The areas most at risk for skin damage are boney areas, such as the front of the knee and shin. The skin around the knee joint is thinner and layered over bone structures, making it more susceptible to tearing. The skin under the straps used to secure the brace at the thigh and calf are susceptible to pressure ulceration, especially if the straps are too tight.
Sweating can also contribute to skin integrity issues. Sweat causes the skin to remain moist, making it more likely to tear.
How To Prevent Skin Integrity Issues related to your Knee Brace
Undergo a proper fitting for your knee brace.
We can’t stress this enough. Even though many knee braces are universally sized, they still need to be properly fitted to you and your body. We recommend working with a professional brace specialist or member of your healthcare team.
Consider swelling of your knee injury or condition.
Swelling around your knee will decrease as you recover from an injury. It will also fluctuate throughout the day - less swelling in the morning and more swelling at night. Therefore, you will need to adjust your brace according to the amount of swelling you are experiencing so it doesn’t become too tight/loose as the swelling fluctuates
Suspension wraps are designed to be used between the brace and your skin for added comfort and to prevent the brace from sliding down. Skin is less likely to be damaged when the brace is not sliding down. Suspension wraps can disperse the pressure that the brace puts on your skin.
In addition to following these tips, be sure to work with your healthcare team to prevent brace-related skin issues. Let your healthcare team know immediately if your brace is causing skin irritation or breakage.