Orthopedic Knee Brace Guide

Written By: Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board

An orthopedic knee brace can be really helpful following knee injuries such as ligament tears, or after knee surgery

Elite orthopedic knee braces provide maximum support and protection for moderate to severe knee pain and instability. 

They are commonly used after serious knee injuries such as ligament tears, or after certain types of knee surgery such as an ACL reconstruction.

They contain hinges which offer sideways stability and control movement to prevent the knee from hyperextending (bending back too far).

Elite braces offer much more protection and stability than the more simple basic pull up sleeves and wrap around knee braces on the market, but as a result, they are more expensive.

Here we will look at the most popular elite level braces on the market, what conditions they are suitable, how they work, which one is best for you and how to choose the correct size.

What Injuries Do They Help?

Elite orthopedic knee braces are perfect for:

  1. Moderate to Severe Knee Problems e.g. cartilage tears, arthritis and chronic weakness
  2. Major Knee Instability e.g. following ligament injuries
  3. Recovery After Knee Surgery e.g. ACL Repair

They help to support the knee, reduce pain and make daily activities and sport much safer and more comfortable. They can be used for everyday activities or high demand activities such as contact sports and skiing. 

How Do Elite Level Braces Vary?

Elite orthopedic knee braces usually have two to four Velcro straps for fastening to ensure an accurate fit. This allows for fluctuations in the size of your knee as swelling comes and goes.

Some elite braces have hinges that can be locked at different amounts of flexion and extension so you can control how much your knee bends and straightens. This is really useful in the early stages of recovering from knee injuries or surgery.

My Top Orthopedic Knee Brace

STAR BUY: McDavid Pro Stabiliser II Hinged Knee Brace

McDavid Pro Stabiliser II Hinged Knee Brace

Overview: This orthopedic knee brace is designed for moderate to severe knee instability and pain. It has two side hinges that prevent hyperextension, and rigid uprights providing additional sideways support whilst allowing freedom of movement.

The McDavid Pro II is made of lightweight materials that accommodate the natural gliding action of the knee (the knee doesn’t simply bend and straighten, it needs to glide to ensure smooth movements). The patellar support buttress helps improve patellar tracking (how the kneecap moves).

My verdict: This is my favourite orthopedic knee brace on the market as it offers excellent protection at a very reasonable price. Users consistently give it top ratings because it is easy to apply, comfortable and effective.

It is one of the most popular hinged knee braces on the market and a good purchase if you really need to give your knee maximum support. Average user rating 4.2/5.

Read: User Reviews    Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $53/£48/€55)

Available in these countries

#CommissionsEarned from Amazon on qualifying purchases

The Best of The Rest

Donjoy Playmaker

 Donjoy Playmaker

Overview: This is a superb sports and skiing brace for knee ligament injuries and cartilage tears. It is suitable for instability following partial or complete tears of any of the knee ligaments.

It has a hi-tech, simple to use pin system which allows you to control the range of knee movement if desired (flexion and extension) by locking the brace at 9 possible ranges of knee bend. This is perfect if you want to block specific knee movements to provide protection e.g. following knee surgery.

They Playmaker also features the Donjoy Four Points of Leverage™ system which restores knee joint stability by preventing movement of the shin in relation to the thigh, reducing the forces on the ACL. The lightweight polyester-nylon weave Drytex fabric eliminates neoprene allergies and improves comfort.

My verdict: This orthopedic knee brace is great if you need to limit the amount of flexion/extension (bending and straightening) of you knee. It has four straps which ensures a perfect fit and provides great stability to the knee.

It is very easy to use, and is most commonly used after knee surgery or with ACL injuries.

Read: User Reviews    Buy Now: On Sale (guide price $180/£179/€150)

Available in these countries

#CommissionsEarned from Amazon on qualifying purchases

Neo G Hinged Open Knee Brace

Neo G Hinged Open Knee Brace

Overview: This orthopedic knee brace has a two point geared hinge system to control flexion and extension movements preventing hyperextension (the knee bending back too far). It also reduces sideways instability.

Featuring three adjustable straps, this brace provides maximum joint protection and stability. The hole at the front for the kneecap helps reduce patellar tracking problems and pain.

My verdict: The hinge actually makes it easier to bend and straighten the knee whilst providing the necessary support. It is simple to use and comfortable. Neo G braces receive excellent user reviews. Average user rating 4.3/5

Read: User Reviews    Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $43/£35/€55)

Orthopedic knee brace available in these countries

#CommissionsEarned from Amazon on qualifying purchases

Mueller Hg80 Hinged Knee Brace

Mueller Hg80 Hinged Knee Brace

Overview: This knee brace has a triaxial hinge and flexible steel springs provides maximum protection without limiting knee movement. Made from Hydracinn fabric which provides good durability and heat management to prevent excessive sweating.

The Mueller Hg80 Knee Brace has a unique antimicrobial layer protecting from bacteria and other micro-organisms and reducing odors. Comes in four sizes (not available in XXL). Latex and neoprene free.

My verdict: This is a great orthopedic knee brace for skiers and active sports people. I like that it is made from special material to prevent it getting smelly! Average user rating 4.2/5

Elite Knee Brace Size Guides

It is really important to get the correct size brace, otherwise it won’t work effectively and may be very uncomfortable. Elite orthopedic knee braces are either one size fits most or come in range of sizes.

To get an accurate fit, measure around the centre of the knee and chose from the options below. If your knee falls between two sizes, it is usually best to go for the larger size for a better fit.

Ace Knee Sleeve sizing guide
McDavid Knee Sleeve Sizing Guide
Mueller Knee Sleeve Sizing Guide
Donjoy Knee Brace Size Guide

*Prices correct as of May 2023.  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.

Other Knee Brace Options?

Most people will not require an elite orthopedic knee brace and find a Basic or Advanced Knee Brace works perfectly for them. The more basic braces tend to be cheaper.

To find out more about the other types of knee braces available, click the links or visit the Knee Brace Overview section for help in finding the best brace for you.

Page Last Updated: 18/01/23
Next Review Due: 18/01/25