Our knees go through a lot throughout our lives, bearing the stress and strain of sports and high intensity exercise as well as general everyday activities. If your knees start to become painful then it can feel debilitating, whether that’s from a specific sports injury, accident or gradual wear-and-tear. Wearing a knee support can provide some relief from pain and swelling, but its important to know what type of knee support to wear so you don’t end up making things worse in the long term. Below are the five main types of knee support available alongside what they’re best at, when it should be used, and some extra information to ensure you can choose the best knee support for you.
Closed Patellar Support
Closed patellar supports cover the entire knee region and compress the area to provide a firm support and protection. The benefit of using this type of knee support is that it can help to control swelling and will address general knee pain. Using a closed patellar support is best if you are suffering from a mild strain or sprain, but can also be used to alleviate symptoms of tendonitis and arthritis. They can also provide useful protection for sports which put a lot of strain on your knees, like weightlifting and rugby.
These can come in two main designs – a stretch bandage sleeve for uniform compression, or with Velcro straps for additional levels of pressure and comfortable fit. You should avoid wearing this type of knee support for too long, as it can cause further pain in the long run due to the pressure applied to the kneecap when you bend your knee past a 45o angle.
Open Patellar Support
Open patellar supports function in much the same way as closed, but also prevent excessive movement of the kneecap and put less pressure on it. This support is useful for general knee pain where the cause is difficult to locate or is cause by a broader issue that requires support and protection. Using an open patellar support is useful for post-op knee problems and strain injuries, while also helping to prevent further injuries or an existing injury escalating. Like the closed patellar support, you should avoid using this type of support too much as it can still cause longer term damage if you take to wearing this support for extensive periods of time on a regular basis.
Hinged Knee Support
Hinged knee supports are typically prescribed by sports physicians for athletes who’ve sustained ligament damage, or by orthopaedic surgeons if a patient is undergoing post-op recovery. This isn’t to say that you can’t use one without being prescribed, but its important to understand that this support is typically used to combat more serious knee injuries due to its more robust construction with metal and hard plastic parts.
The main use for this support is to combat ligament damage, especially if the ligament has needed to be surgically repaired, as it provides an increased level of stability and helps to protect the ligament from any further damage. This is the only form of knee support which can be worn regularly, and if it has been prescribed by a doctor then you should ensure you wear this support at all times until instructed that it can be removed.
Adjustable Stabilising Support
Adjustable stabilising supports are another type of knee support which may be prescribed by a sports physician if an athlete is starting to return to full training capacity. It provides an adjustable level of support to ensure the maximum level of protection from repeat injuries caused by overstraining the ligaments. Of course, this knee support isn’t just for athletes. If you’re an active individual who has had issues with ligaments in the past, using an adjustable stabilising support to give you the reassurance to pick up your hobbies and activities again after resting the affected knee.
Patellar Tendon Support
Patellar tendon supports are best for dealing with knee pain which originated from strain on the patellar tendon, as the name suggests, which is typically associated with running and jumping activities. This support applies compression to the patellar tendon just under the kneecap in order to dissipate any strain around the area and reduce the overall level of pain experienced. If you’re sure that your knee pain is being caused by the patellar tendon, then this support would be the ideal option for tacking the strain.
Should I use an elasticated knee support or a neoprene one?
Knee supports come in all shapes and sizes, but the material that your knee support is made of should also be a factor you consider. Elasticated supports are better for minor injuries as they aren’t as firm while also providing protection from further injury, while neoprene supports provide a firmer level of compression and can help retain heat while helps prevent a joint from feeling stiff.
If you’re still unsure about what sort of knee support would be best for you in order to feel best protected again more severe knee injuries or to reduce your overall pain, then it is worth getting in touch with us for a consultation. We work in partnership with a number of orthopaedic surgeons, pain management consultants and physiotherapists who can help you decide what action to take in relation to your knee problems, from long term pain management to knee replacement surgery.
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