Harvard Men's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: Braces for knee arthritis

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Ask the doctor

Q. I occasionally use a brace on my knee because I have knee arthritis. Am I weakening my knee?

A. The benefit of a brace for knee arthritis is likely in the eye of the beholder. A brace can help improve the ability to perform certain activities, and for some people the compression and warmth of the brace relieves pain. However, medical research has been mixed on the absolute benefits.

It is important to distinguish between the two major types of knee braces. The most common is a sleeve type of brace, which is available at most pharmacies and sporting-goods stores. These can provide a sense of stability to the knee and allow greater movement and thus more activity. However, studies that have examined these braces show little change in the actual mechanics of the knee.

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