Devices which fasten to and provide support for knees are known as knee braces. They support the ligaments of the knee by controlling movements. They also provide protection against excessive or abnormal movement of knees that have sustained an injury or which suffer from chronic problems. These braces can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and serve several different functions. They can be found in sporting goods and/or health supply stores. Higher-end braces can be custom made to better fit your knee. There are three categories: functional, prophylactic, and rehabilitative.
Functional knee braces are designed to provide stability to knees which have been injured and commonly have weak ligaments. These braces typically have rigid structures made of metal or hard plastic which are fastened around the knee. They create a supportive frame around the knee joint. The frame of the brace resembles a hinge that prevents the knee from twisting and hyperextending which would cause additional damage to the knee joint. People who suffer from chronic knee problems may need to wear a functional brace for daily use and during all physical activity.
Prophylactic knee braces are designed to prevent injuries to the healthy knees of athletes who participate in high-impact sports like football. Many athletes choose to wear this type of brace in an effort to minimize their risk of sustaining a knee injury. These braces often have less rigid structures made of rubber or elastic and straps which support and compress the knee and do not limit speed.
Rehabilitative knee braces are designed to protect a reconstructed or repaired ligament and to allow early motion. These braces are available over the counter with calf and thigh enclosures, hinges, hinge-brace arms, and straps which surround the brace components. The hinges may be unlocked allowing restricted range of motion. These braces may also be custom made. They are most common for ACL reconstruction and postoperative protocols.