Knee braces are usually worn over the knee to reduce pain and swelling after an injury or knee surgery. Some medical practitioners will recommend the use of the brace in addition to other interventions while others are against it. However, when a knee brace is part of the treatment, the way in which it is worn determines the effectiveness of the treatment and the duration. The doctor or physical therapists will usually advice on what is the ideal length of wear. Ideally, the mode of wear should be in such a way that the benefits far outweigh the anticipated or perceived risks.
First of all, before anything else is considered, the knee brace must be the right size so as to offer the best possible support. Then this brace must be worn rightly, in that it is not too tight as to do more damage than good resulting in more injury and also not too loose as to not offer any support at all. While there may be different types and designs of knee braces in the market, the rule of thumb, so to speak, when it comes to correctly fitting a brace seems to be the ‘two finger’ method. This is two fingers are inserted under the straps once they are fastened to check how snug the fit is. If two fingers cannot fit under a strap, it means that it is too tight and may need to be redone. When more than two fingers fit under a strap then it is too loose and may need to be tightened a bit. When the strap is too tight, it may cause bruising, pain or even cut off blood supply which is essential to facilitate the healing process. When the brace is too loose, then it means that it is not offering sufficient support and thereby the entire essence of having a brace is lost.
It is important to remember that a knee brace is a temporary measure to aid in healing and so every effort must be made to ensure that the knee gains back its usual mobility and strength. In the meantime the brace should be in place for as long as it takes just so that there is maximum benefit. It may be necessary to sleep in the knee brace depending on the severity of the injury or the healing process. This is especially so as to keep the joint firmly in place where movement and impact during sleep may cause adverse negative effect on the recovery. In some instances depending on the severity of the injury the brace may only need to be worn for a short duration, say two hours, for the first few days. This helps to establish the fit of the brace as well as to ascertain how comfortable the brace actually is. Since a brace is meant to help alleviate pain and increase mobility at the affected area, if the pain intensifies and mobility hindered or painful, then the brace need to be removed and checked.
Eventually, if the skin underneath the knee brace has no bruises after the initial two hour trial and the pain is managed, the duration of wear can be increased gradually, day by day, an hour or two daily, until the recommended time of wear is attained. Additionally, to increase the efficiency of the brace, regular maintenance procedures need to be carried out. Clean brace liners, straps and pads not only increase the rate of healing but also reduce the chances of irritation to the skin under the knee brace. Only the simplest cleaning methods using soap, water and a cloth are required to ensure the brace is in perfect condition,
If for any reason the brace does not fit properly after a certain time of use it must be checked out by a professional for possible replacement if need be. If the fit does not feel right all of a sudden, it is advisable to not try to fix it at home as this may damage the knee brace and end up being more costly than just having a expert verify what the problem could be. It is also advisable to report to the medical attendant if the pain on the knee joint worsens during the use of a knee brace or if another part of the leg or body develops discomfort during regular use of the brace. It is expected that some form of irritation will be experienced especially in the initial stages; however, if this irritation does not disappear after a few minutes upon removal of the brace, this should be reported. Essentially, every step of the way, progress must be report, whether positive or negative, to prevent further injury and to speed up recovery. While the sole purpose of the knee brace is help in recovery after an injury or knee surgery, one must not get too used to it so as to depend upon it at all times. Regularly exercising the joint under the supervision of a trained professional is recommended such that as healing progresses, the use of the knee joint is also being encouraged to strengthen the muscles and ligaments. An important factor to consider is the amount of pressure exerted on the joint especially from body weight. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy weight through physical exercise and healthy diet. This is more so crucial during the healing process but more beneficial when it is a lifestyle