Arthritis Knee Brace Guide
Arthritis knee braces are designed to relieve the pain and swelling associated with arthritis.
Arthritis is very common problem and affects around 50 million Americans, approximately 22% of the population.
Arthritis braces work by reducing the pressure going through the arthritic parts of the knee and providing support and warmth.
Here we will look at how different styles of arthritis
braces work, what evidence there is to their effectiveness, how to choose the
best brace for you including how to get the right size, and what to expect from the brace.
Styles To Choose From
There are three different styles of arthritis knee brace:
1) General Arthritis Knee Supports: These provide
compression and warmth which help to reduce arthritis pain and swelling. They
work best for mild arthritis affecting part or all of the joint
2) Advanced Support Braces: These provide support for ligaments and help
reduce the weight going through the knee joint to reduce arthritis knee
pain. These work well for mild and
moderate arthritis affecting part or all of the joint
3) Unloader Arthritis Knee Braces: Unloader knee braces are
specially designed to reduce the weight going through the parts of the knee
affected by arthritis by changing the angle of the knee joint. Special hinges redistribute the weight to
stronger parts of the joint. There are
different unloader braces suitable for all severities of arthritis, mild,
moderate and severe, but work best when only one side of the knee is affected.
We will start by looking at Unloader arthritis knee braces as they are the ones most specifically designed for arthritis.
Unloader Arthritis Knee Braces
Unloader arthritis knee braces work by reducing the weight
going through the arthritic part of the knee joint and redistributing it to the
healthy part of the knee.
As a result,
unloader knee braces work best for people whose arthritis is confined to one side of the knee joint. Most commonly, arthritis affects the medial
(inner) side of the knee, while the lateral (outer) side of the knee is often
unaffected, but sometimes it works in reverse.
Unloader knee braces are more expensive than other types of arthritis
knee brace, but that is because of their more complex design, which often makes
them more effective.
Many people find
they get great relief from their pain when wearing an unloader arthritis knee brace, and it
can delay or even prevent the need for surgery.
Donjoy arthritis knee braces are usually the best in this category.
Overview: This is Donjoy's easiest to use osteoarthritis
brace designed for moderate to moderate arthritis. It takes the weight off the arthritic side and
redistributes it to the healthy side of the knee
via a 3 point-load system.
With the Donjoy OA Everyday you can easily adjust the load through the
knee according to your activity levels (up to 6 degrees correction), and you can
control how much flexion and extension the brace allows the knee to perform.
This arthritis knee brace was awarded a Commendation for Ease of
Use by the Arthritis Foundation. It has
a light weight frame, and swiveling, quick release buckles make it extremely
easy to put the brace on and off.
and straps hold the brace in place while conforming to your shape for accurate
fit. It is shorter than most other
arthritis knee braces (12.5”) and is specially designed not to catch on the
My verdict: This knee brace can
work really well at easing arthritis knee pain by taking the weight off the
affected part of the knee and redistributing it. It is expensive, but many people find this
arthritis knee brace helps delay/prevent the need for surgery. Average user rating 4.8/5.
Overview: The Donjoy OA Lite arthritis knee
brace helps to slow arthritis progression by reducing the load on the
knee. The pioneering technology with this brace gives
instant relief from arthritis knee pain and can help delay the need for
The angled hinge and condyle pad within the brace work together
as a wedge to change the position of the knee joint. This relieves the 'bone on bone contact', which
reduces friction and pain during your daily activities.
My verdict: The Donjoy OA Lite is perfect if you have mild arthritis affecting one side of the knee. It
provides more targeted support and offloading than general support knee braces,
hence the price. Average user reviews 4/5.
This arthritis knee brace is designed for use with mild to moderate arthritis. The padded lightweight frame and three point load
system redistributes weight from degenerative (arthritic) parts of the joint to
the healthy parts.
With the Donjoy OA Assist you can control the
load distribution and amount of rotation through the knee for optimum fit
according to activity levels. It is specially
shaped so it doesn’t catch on your other leg.
The unique "3 Degrees of Freedom" hinge allows you to control
the amount of flexion and extension that is allowed at the knee.
My verdict: A simple to use arthritis knee brace
commended by the Arthritis Foundation for ease of use. A great brace for reducing arthritis knee
pain so you can continue with your normal daily activities.
It is expensive, but that is due to the design
complexity needed to redistribute the forces of the arthritic side of the knee
– other more general knee braces won’t be able to do that.
With all these Donjoy arthritis knee braces you can choose from two
versions, Medial Compartment Version or Lateral Compartment Version – depending
on which side of your knee that is affected by arthritis.
Advanced Support Braces
These arthritis knee braces provide great support for the knee joint, as
well as helping to reduce swelling. They
are great if your knee is starting to feel weak or unstable due to your
arthritis, whether it is with sporting activities like skiing, or everyday
activities such as walking. People often
feel more confident knowing that they have some extra support.
Overview: This Neo G knee brace provides great support and compression, and has metal spiral support stays to stabilise the knee whilst allowing controlled movement. It is particularly good for sports and skiing.
The open patella area helps reduce pressure through the front of the knee. It has three adjustable straps which allow variable compression and ensure a custom fit around the entire knee complex.
My verdict: The Neo G Stabilised Open Knee Support is one of the best braces on the market offering advanced support and protection for arthritis.
The open knee prevents pressure going through the kneecap which is often uncomfortable with arthritis, and it allows the knee to breathe which is particularly useful if you are wearing it all day.
You can adjust the size of the brace so it will fit during your good and bad arthritis spells, whether there is swelling or not. Average user rating 4.3/5.
Overview: This brace has side hinges that provide great support. It is made of lightweight materials that accommodate the natural gliding action of the knee. The neoprene sleeve provides therapeutic warmth and it has a seamless, breathable back panel for improved comfort.
The McDavid Pro has fully adjustable Velcro straps to ensure a perfect fit for your knee.
My verdict: This is of the most popular hinged knee braces on the market. Users consistently give it top ratings because it is easy to apply, comfortable and effective. It provides good support so is great if your balance is starting to be affected by your arthritis. Average user rating 4.2.
Overview: The hinges and springs in this brace provide good protection without limiting knee movement. It is made from Hydracinn fabric (latex and neoprene free) which provides good durability and heat management to prevent excessive sweating.
The contoured inner sleeve and adjustable strap at the top ensures correct fit. A unique antimicrobial layer protects from bacteria and other micro-organisms, reducing odours. NB The US and UK versions look slightly different.
My verdict: The Mueller Hg80 is a knee great brace for skiers and active sports people who are starting to feel limited by the arthritis knee pain. It is even made from special material to prevent it getting smelly! Average user rating 4.2.
General Arthritis Knee Supports
These are the most basic arthritis knee braces on the
market, suitable for a variety of knee problems, including arthritis. They provide some support and
warmth to the joint, as well as helping to reduce pain and swelling. They are most suitable in the early stages of
Overview: This Neo G knee brace provides compression,
support and warming relief to the entire knee complex without restricting
At only 2.5mm thick, The Neo G Closed Knee Support can easily be worn under your clothes,
providing dynamic support whilst still allowing full range of motion in all
My verdict: This brace provides great support and stays in place, better than many other knee
braces. The adjustable straps means it
will fit, even if your knee swells.
It is made
of neoprene material, helping it to retain heat increasing blood flow to the knee, which
helps reduce arthritis knee pain. Average user rating 4.3/5.
This ACE brace provides support and stability by simulating the action of
the knee ligaments without restricting normal leg movement. It has flexible
metal side stabilizers that provide medial and lateral stability.
The ACE Brace With Side Stabilizers is designed for use with arthritis,
general knee soreness and swelling.
This brace offers more protection than a simple pull on sleeve as it has side
stabilisers to support your knee, perfect if your arthritis is starting to make
your knee feel unsteady. Users rate it
highly for comfort, support and durability. Average user rating 4.2/5.
This Mueller knee brace is a lightweight, adjustable support that provides
firm, comfortable compression without restricting movement. It has four patented straps that provide
controlled compression and a perfect fit for your knee - especially helpful if
you knee is prone to swelling with arthritis.
The open kneecap design of the Mueller Wrap helps to stabilise the
kneecap without putting any pressure through it.
Its contoured design and
Velcro cover minimises bunching and prevents friction behind the knee. The soft
neoprene blend retains heat for soothing warmth to help relieve pain and
promote healing. One size fits most.
My verdict: People find this arthritis knee brace really
comfortable even when worn all day. It doesn’t cause any restriction behind the
knee like some pull on sleeves do. Average user rating 4.1.
Do They Really Help?
An article in Arthritis Today magazine quoted the American
College of Rheumatology on the recommended management of arthritis stating “The
use of lightweight knee braces may correct misaligned bones of the knee joint
and reduce pressure on the soft tissues.”
The article also mentions that the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons too, supports the use of braces for knee osteoarthritis (OA), “Some [braces]
may provide significant reduction in pain ... in selected patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee.”
What To Expect From Arthritis Braces
It is important to remember:
1) Arthritis knee braces do not cure
arthritis: But they can help reduce the
pain associated with it and can help you avoid or delay the need for
2) They may feel uncomfortable to start with: It
can take up to a month to get used to them.
But bearing in mind arthritis is a long term condition, it is worth
3) Arthritis knee braces don’t suit everyone: But
many people find they either eliminate their pain, or certainly moderately
4) They are not a substitute for rehab: To get the
best results, you should be working on a knee strengthening programme
alongside using your brace
5) Always discuss your condition with your doctor:
or physical therapist prior to purchasing a brace to make sure you get one suitable for your knee
Arthritis knee braces generally tend to be most beneficial
for people with mild to moderate arthritis.
The unloader braces can help with severe arthritis but I would recommend
you discuss them with your doctor before purchasing any to check what is
It is vital that you get the right sized arthritis knee brace otherwise it will not provide the support you need and will likely be uncomfortable. The size guides below will allow you to find the right size for you. If your measurements put you between two sizes, it is usually best to opt for the larger size.
*Prices correct as of February 2020 All prices are subject to change. Please note we do not stock products directly and therefore have no control over price changes. See advertising policy for more information.
Find Out More
If you want to know more about arthritis including diagnosis, symptoms and treatment options, visit the arthritis section.
If you don't think you've found the right arthritis knee brace for you, go to the knee brace guide for a greater range of braces.
You can also check out our book Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control.
Packed full of great information from exercises to knee replacements and
everything in between.
Knee Pain Guide
Arthritis Knee Braces
Page Last Updated: 09/10/18
Next Review Due: 09/10/20