Knee braces that shift the weight and relieve the pain and can even provide an alternative to surgery.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Before we get into the detail of what a knee brace can do let us first discuss the condition known as Osteoarthritis (OA) in greater depth.  Essentially, osteoarthritis is a generally complex condition that affects the knee joint as a whole.  It is a wear-and-tear form of arthritis that also often affects the elderly and is frequently prevalent on one side of the knee more than the other.   However, imperfect alignment or malignment can occur as a result of this unequal damage which can also cause someone to appear bowlegged or knock-kneed.  

Figure 1 Osteoarthritis of the knee (image source www.healthline.com

This malalignment deteriorates as the damage worsens and a knee brace is used to relieve the pressure from the area of the joint and relieve the pain where osteoarthritis presents a problem.  Should your knee feel as though it might give way or buckle when you apply weight to it, a knee brace can also help you to stand and walk with a great deal more confidence.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the knee

Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee include:

  • Difficulty in bending the knee
  • Swelling of the knee
  • Stiffness in the knee
  • Increased swelling in the mornings
  • Increased swelling after resting
  • Grinding of the knee with creaking, locking, snapping, clicking
  • A feeling of weakness in and buckling of the knee
  • Increased pain following physical activities
  • Increased pain during wet weather

What exactly is a knee brace? 

A knee brace is a device that is used to manage the discomfort caused by among other things, conditions such as osteoarthritis.  It functions by shifting the weight away from the affected part of the knee thereby helping to reduce pain and discomfort and can provide a suitable alternative when surgery is not a desirable option. 

There are many different types of knee braces that can be used for osteoarthritis.  For example, an offloader/unloader brace shifts weight away from the affected part of the knee.  This type of knee brace is specifically designed to offload one side of the joint to the other, that is, as its name indicates it unloads weight or pressure from the distressed part of the knee joint to the healthy part of the joint.

Examples of different types of knee braces used for osteoarthritis

Agilium Reactive Knee Brace

The agilium reactive knee brace is specifically designed to meet the needs of highly active individuals.

Figure 2 Agilium Reactive Knee Brace (image source Otto Bock)

Geno Arthro Knee Brace

The Geno Arthro knee brace helps to increase mobility, is comfortable and lightweight and can be worn discreetly under clothing.  

Figure 3 Geno Arthro Knee Brace (image source Otto Bock)

Agilium Vantage Knee Brace

The Agilium Vantage knee brace is a wraparound knee brace that is designed to provide lasting pain relief and is worn by those suffering from mild symptoms associated with unicompartmental osteoarthritis.

How does an offloader/unloader knee brace work?

  • The offloader/unloader knee brace is custom made using foam, moulded plastic and steel struts that restrict side movement of the joint and thus stabilise the knee.  To enable flexibility of movement the knee brace is fitted around the entire leg at the knee joint leg level.
  • The offloader/unloader knee brace is specifically designed to force the knee to bend away from the painful part of the knee joint by acting on three pressure points located in the thigh bone.
  • By adjusting the unloading hinge, certain knee braces are designed to unload either the medial (otherwise known as inner) or lateral (otherwise known as outer) area of the knee.
  • Offloader/unloader knee braces are frequently worn by those who suffer from medial compartment knee osteoarthritis which is the type of osteoarthritis that affects the inner knee area.  In situations such as these, the unstable knee can cause the knee to wobble towards the inside part of the leg while walking.  The offloader/unloader knee brace therefore affords greater stability by shifting the weight away from the weaker part of the knee.  One must also bear in mind that this is only effective in cases where the other part of the knee is assumed to be in sufficiently good health to bear the load.

Testimonial from Roger Wolfson himself – an osteoarthritis sufferer and inventor of the JR OA Offloader Knee Brace

“My name is Roger Wolfson. In my youth I was a keen judoka. I even represented south Africa in the 1977, 1981 and 1985 World Maccabi games.

Unfortunately, knees don’t do well in a body contact sport such as Judo.   Since 2008 my right knee had been getting progressively worse and in that same year I was due for knee replacement surgery.  Fortunately the surgeon did not want to operate as I had recently been given a cortisone injection in my knee to help reduce pain. 

Figure 4  Roger Wolfson shows how the JR OA Offloader Knee brace is worn

Says Roger:  “Although there are more sleek, lightweight knee braces available, because of my condition, I decided to design a different type of knee brace, since I needed a more bulky brace to take more of the load.”  

As you might be aware, cortisone and joint surgery can easily lead to sepsis.  I could not walk up or down stairs. I could not drive for long distances . I then decided to make my own knee brace and the rest is history.  Now, I go to gym on a regular basis and I only wear the brace once a day for 30 minutes.  It has saved me from a lot of pain, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of rands I have saved in medical expenses. At Roger Wolfson and Associates we can do the same for you.”

More About the JR OA Offloader Knee brace designed by Roger Wolfson

The JR OA Off-loader orthosis was designed to absorb the pressure from the painful part of the knee by loading the pressure to the good part of the injured knee. The JR OA Offloader knee brace helps to achieve normal functioning without pain and enables pain relief without the need for surgery.

Definite benefits to wearing a knee brace to treat osteoarthritis 

  • Should you suffer from unicompartmental (on one side only) osteoarthritis, there have been studies that have shown that wearing an offloader/unloader knee brace can delay knee replacement surgery.
  • An offloader/unloader knee brace is considered to be an effective, cost effective device that offers pain relief free from side effects. 

Contact Roger Wolfson now on 011 640 7198 for a free first consultation and assessment to find out more about how you can get the  benefits of pain relief.

Reference sources:  Verywellhealth.com | Reflexknees.com | Healthline.com | Ottobock.com