Knee Braces Ease Osteoarthritis Pain
Researchers Say OA Patients Report Relief From Pain and Stiffness After Wearing Knee Brace
April 13, 2010 -- Steve Peterson, 62, a home remodeler in Seattle, has
rock-climbed in Tasmania, hiked in the high alpine regions of Washington, and
trekked across the island of Manhattan -- all while sporting a knee brace due
to painful knee osteoarthritis (OA), the
wear-and-tear form of the disease that affects 27 million people.
When surgery failed to repair his damaged knee, Peterson's doctor suggested
a knee brace. While Peterson was reluctant to try it at first, his wife all but
insisted, and as a result, she got her hiking partner back, and to hear
Peterson tell it, he got his life back.
"It absolutely gave me almost immediate relief," he says. "By wearing the
brace, I could get back to sports and was able to call my physician and say
'why didn't we try this first?'"
Knee braces basically help realign the knee; taking pressure off of damaged
areas to relieve pain
and restore function. Bracing is one of a number of noninvasive ways to treat
knee OA and/or delay the need for joint replacement surgery.
New research presented at a media briefing Tuesday in New York City suggests
that Peterson is not the only one to find relief from knee bracing. In a new
study, 49 people with knee OA aged 45 to 87 who wore a knee brace had less
pain, stiffness, and disability after six months of use.
All study participants led active lifestyles before they got sidelined by
knee OA, and said they hoped to return to their previous level of activities.
And by and large, they did. Their quality of life improved, and their activity
level went from one that did not permit recreational sports to one that
The brace used in the study was provided by Ossur, which also provided
financial support to the study through a research grant and sponsored the media
briefing. The study was also presented at the recent annual meeting of the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans.
Benefits of a Brace
Thirty-one percent of study participants said they took fewer
over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs, and 35% were taking
fewer prescription anti-inflammatory drugs after six months of wearing the
brace. Researchers plan to follow up on these individuals for up to two years
to see who goes on to have joint replacement surgery.
But so far, so good. "The less knee misalignment the patient had, the less
disability they experienced, and they saw an improvement in pain, stiffness,
and function," said study researcher J. Richard Steadman, MD, founder of the
Steadman Phillipon Research Institute in Vail, Colo., at the media
Not everyone with knee OA is a candidate for bracing, he says. Braces may
not fit individuals who weigh too much or too little.