Why Unload a Joint Even if it Hasn’t Been Injected Yet?

As recommended by the recently published knee osteoarthritis guidelines, the patient with knee osteoarthritis should increase activity, reduce weight and increase strength.

For many patients however, their pain prevents them from becoming more active, thus making weight loss and strength training more difficult. 

Unloader knee braces can provide rapid pain relief enabling patients to increase their activity levels, thus reduce weight and build strength.

By reducing the load in the affected compartment, unloader braces should also protect the affected joint compartment from mechanical overload which may otherwise result in a faster progression of the disease.

This reduction in pain then allows for increased activity and thusincreased knee strength.

Unloader braces are designed to reduce load in the affected compartment of the knee.  Knee osteoarthritis braces have been shown to increase the joint space in the affected compartment when wearing the brace, reduce compartmental load in subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee and improve proprioception.


To date, two studies have investigated this topic– whether an unloading knee brace would cause the weakening or strengthening of muscles.  Both studies found that muscle strength about the knee INCREASED with use of osteoarthritis knee braces.

Studies cited:
Matsuno H, Kadowaki KM, Tsuji H. Generation II knee bracing for severe medial compartment osteoarthritis of the knee. ArchPhys Med Rehabil 1997;78(7):745–9.

Hurley ST, HatfieldMurdock GL, Stanish WD, Hubley-Kozey CL. Is there a doseresponse for valgus unloader brace usage on knee pain,

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