Is an unloader knee brace actually more effective than cheaper
alternatives from CVS, Walmart or Walgreens?
Study: Comparing an Unloading Knee Brace to a
Simple Neoprene Sleeve to No Brace on an
Complete study is from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1999
The purpose of this study was to compare an unloader knee
brace, a neoprene sleeve, and medical treatment only with no
brace with regard to their ability to improve quality of life and the
functional status of patients who had osteoarthritis of the knee.
Any patients who had already received knee surgery were
excluded from this study.
One hundred and nineteen patients were selected at random. The
control group (patients wearing no knee support) consisted of
The neoprene-sleeve group was made up of thirty-eight patients
and the unloader-brace group made up of forty-one patients.
The average age of all three groups was 59 years old.
At the six-month follow-up evaluation, there was a significant
improvement in the disease-specific quality of life and in function
in both the neoprene-sleeve group and the unloader-brace group
compared with the control group (patients with no knee support.)
There was a significant difference between the unloader-brace
group and the neoprene-sleeve group with regard to pain after
both the six-minute walking test and the thirty-second stair-
climbing test. There was a strong trend toward a significant
difference between the unloader-brace group and the neoprene-
sleeve group with regard to the change in the WOMAC* physical
*(WOMAC) is a widely used set of standardized questionnaires
used by health professionals to evaluate the condition of patients
with osteoarthritis of the knee and hip, including pain, stiffness,
and physical functioning of the joints.
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