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Knee Braces Vs Knee Sleeves – What’s The Difference?


Elite Medical Blog (2)-3

Knee support products can be found in various shapes and sizes which are used to treat a wide range of knee conditions. Knee support products are generally classified into knee braces and knee sleeves. While they both offer support for the ligaments and muscles of the knee, there are significant differences between the two types of supports.

How Do Knee Braces Work?

Knee braces are useful when you experience knee pain, swelling, and limited mobility. They ease the pain from soreness while also protecting your knee from injury in various situations.

A knee brace provides functional stability to the knee and performs different functions depending on the type of knee brace. There are knee braces designed for post-op recovery, osteoarthritis damage, and torn ligaments to name a few. The designs are specific to the type of condition being treated such as allowing for weight to be offloaded from the knee, locking out all knee movement, or limiting movement to a specific range. In addition to providing functional support, a knee brace can also include compression by combining the materials used by knee supports.


What Are the Different Types of Knee Braces?

There are four types of knee braces:

Prophylactic braces

These braces are excellent for preventing injury during sports activities. If you play sports like basketball, football or soccer, wearing these can help you avoid being added to the injured reserve list.

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Functional braces

These are typically used by patients who already have an injured their knee. Functional knee braces are designed to stabilize the knee during rotation and movement towards the front and back.

Patients who need support following ACL injury, ACL tear or require additional support after ACL surgery may also benefit from a functional knee brace.

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Rehabilitative knee braces

Rehabilitative braces are commonly worn post-surgery or after an injury to promote rehabilitation and healing. A rehabilitative brace restricts movement to protect injured ligaments during recovery. A common type of knee brace is an immobilizer knee brace. This type of brace keeps the knee straight and will fully or partially restrict the knee's range of motion.

Rehabilitative knee braces are typically worn for a limited duration after surgery as directed by a health professional to protect the MCL, ACL, PCL, LCL or associated injuries.

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Unloader/Offloader knee braces

This type of knee brace is used to unload pressure from one side of the knee joint to the other side when treating unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis. Moving pressure from the joint side afflicted by osteoarthritis to the healthy side helps provide stability and support.

An unloader brace applies pressure to the thigh bone which limits side movement of the joint. This shifts the weight to the healthy side of the joint, reducing pain and further damage.

These braces require a doctor's prescription and are generally eligible for insurance coverage.

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How Do Knee Sleeves Work?

Knee sleeves, as opposed to knee braces, comprise elastic fabrics and provide less functional support than braces. Knee sleeves are flexible and allow for more mobility when compared to traditional knee bracing.

Knee sleeves provide warmth and compression. The compression improves blood flow and receptive input, allowing you to execute regulated and steady motions. The compression also limits kneecap movement providing additional stability. By using a knee sleeve, the knee can attain its optimal operating temperature, ensuring that the joint is adequately prepared before you begin exercising.

Knee sleeves are not meant to be worn regularly. Instead, they are intended to be used during physical exercise when individuals require additional support. They also provide stability during activity and help to reduce post-workout discomfort and pain.


Which One Should You Wear: Knee Braces or Knee Sleeves?

Knee braces and knee sleeves have distinct advantages and are designed for different purposes. The best way to determine which one you need is to discuss which type of knee support is best for your condition with your doctor. Once you know what knee support you need, we’re here to help choose from the available options.

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Let Us Help with Your Recovery

You can count on Elite Medical Supply to assist you in finding the most suitable brace for your needs. Finding the right brace for your requirements might be difficult; contact us to explore your bracing choices and how we can assist you.