Best Unloader Knee Brace – Reviews & Buying Guide

The best unloader knee brace doesn’t necessarily have to be the most expensive ones, but more importantly, it must provide all the benefits and extra support that your fatigued and overworked muscles require.

Knee braces are a necessity for strained and sprained knees that have developed swelling and pain, as they aid in stabilizing the knee and providing it extra support to avoid painful movements and further injury. [01]

The purpose of the knee brace is to provide knee support, prevent knee injuries, and to generate sufficient warmth that is required to promote the healing of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, along with eliminating inflammation to a certain extent. [02]

When you have suffered a serious knee injury or your knees are causing you immense pain, you will require the support of knee braces.

Knee braces are usually used to avoid harmful knee injuries that tend to occur while playing certain sports, high-impact training and marathon events.

However, there is concrete evidence that shows the prophylactic effectiveness of knee braces. So, they should be used as directed by the healthcare provider and are not recommended to use on a regular basis. [03] [04]

The best quality knee braces are mostly made from various blends of foam, plastic, metal, foam, and straps to give the knee a firm grip, and they can be purchased in a wide variety of designs, patterns, colors, and sizes.

6. Ossur Unloader One OTS Osteoarthritic Knee Brace

Ossur Braces is a renowned and reliable brand in the industry when it comes to the best unloader knee braces for osteoarthritis patients.

The Unloader One OTS is a light-weight and flexible brace that is extremely low-profile with its easy-to-wear and easy-to-remove design.

This flexible unloader knee brace features an innovative design that is specifically created to help patients suffering from osteoarthritis relieve their pain and stress, along with facilitating movement.

With this iconic new design, Ossur has completely innovative and redesigned their popular Unloader brace, by incorporating newer technologies and information derived from twenty years of clinical research and user feedback.

Ossur Unloader One OTS Osteoarthritic Knee Brace-M-Left-Standard Medial

It provides unmatched performance with its innovative biomechanical design and holistic approach that serves to eliminate the pain and immobility suffered by OA patients.

Out of all the knee braces available for unloading the pressure, this has the most published evidence. Its 3-point leverage system helps the affected compartment to unload the pressure and it can be used in the mild to severe osteoarthritis cases. [05]

Its quick-connect strapping allows easy tool-free removal and replacement, and the lightweight build is perfect to ensure ventilation and flexible movements.

It features a 15.5″ length and around 50% more stress unloading power as compared to its original design, while the low-profile design features innovative breathable padding covered with silicone, which serves to prevent any kind of rotation or slipping.

The most innovative feature is undoubtedly its dual dynamic force straps that come with an easy-to-adjust control system, a remarkable innovation that allows osteoarthritis patients to effectively manage their painful symptoms.

Even if you have arthritic hands, you will still find this unloading knee brace easy to apply and remove for it is truly a simplified solution to effectively manage the unicompartmental osteoarthritis pain.

Ossur Unloader One OTS Osteoarthritic Knee Brace-M-Left-Standard Medial

5. DonJoy OA Everyday Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

DonJoy Braces, a reliable name in the industry, provides osteoarthritis patients an extremely effective and lightweight unloading knee brace that is easy-to-use and flexible.

The DonJoy OA Everyday Arthritis Knee Brace allows patients to effectively control their knee pain with the assistance of a controlled telescoping condyle pad, which allows the sufferer to “fine-tune” the load according to the activity they are about to engage in.

DonJoy OA Everyday Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

Its lightweight design features an anterior application and the quick release straps make application and removal very easy.

It features an ergonomic sweeping medial thigh or calf frame with a low-profile and comfortable design, while the telescoping pad aids in exerting the load across the center of the knee joint by applying a counter-force measure at the cuffs.

Its three-point redistribution of the load aids in eliminating the pain from the degenerative area, allowing the patient greater mobility and the freedom to engage in activities, like walking, and even playing sports.

It has a reasonably short 12 ½ ” length and a comfy foam condyle pad that provides increased comfort and compliance.

The price tag may seem extremely huge but unloading knee braces tend to be expensive and the innovative feature of this brace can truly simplify the life of an arthritis patient, allowing him/her greater mobility and reduced suffering.

DonJoy OA Everyday Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

4. Breg Fusion OA Knee Brace

Specially designed for patients suffering from medial compartmental osteoarthritis, the Breg Fusion OA Plus is the ultimate innovative unloader knee brace.

It effectively manages the symptoms of osteoarthritis like pain and prevents further damage to the joints, muscles, and ligaments of the knee.

It features innovative AirTech frame pads, windows, and channel to allow effective ventilation by letting cooling airflow in order to shield the skin against the accumulation of heat and moisture.

Breg Fusion OA Plus Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

Its low-profile design is perfect to provide effective suspension and pain relief, along with ensuring the comfort of the sufferer while engaging in movements.

Breg has powered this durable unloading knee brace with the innovative Proform technology that provides the knee a contoured and flexible fit, along with superior protection against further degeneration, damage or inflammation.

It features an extremely easy application and removal, and even patients with arthritic hands can operate it without complications.

It comes with a budget-friendly price tag and the incredible convenience of the thumb-wheel dial hinge, which makes very easy for the patients to adjust their own low of off-loading to manage their pain.

Breg Fusion OA Plus Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

3. BraceAbility OA Knee Brace

BraceAbility, a trust-worthy brand that designs innovative unloader knee braces for osteoarthritis patients, presents us with yet another remarkable invention: the OTS brace.

This innovative and affordable unloader knee brace is extremely helpful in managing both, mild and severe symptoms of osteoarthritis, and it features a latterly applied frame and hinges to correct both, the medial and lateral compartment of the knee.

It comes with an Allen Key, which serves to provide a secure fit from the lateral and medial hinges, flexible side-to-side movements and greater comfort.

BraceAbility Osteoarthris Knee Brace

It is made with lightweight aluminum and glass-reinforced nylon cuffs, along with faux-suede padded liners to make the brace extremely comfortable and provided the affected knee enhanced protection.

This is the best unloading knee brace to relieve pain and pressure upon the injured knee while walking and engaging in activities.

The braces feature straps and liners to provide the brace a silicone grip and make sure it remains suspended, while the laterally applied, quick-release buckles ensure that the patient doesn’t have any trouble applying or removing the race.

It is highly effective at reducing the pain of osteoarthritis by providing enhanced support and compression with a low-profile and lightweight fit. With a thigh circumference of 30″, it comes in a universal size that is suitable for everyone.

Breg Fusion OA Plus Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

2. Unloader One Undersleeve Knee Brace

Ossur presents us with yet another extremely innovative, lightweight and comfortable unloader knee brace: the Unloader One OTS Osteoarthritis Knee brace.

The ultimate design to help relieve pain, pressure, and stress for osteoarthritis patients, allowing them to effectively manage their symptoms.

Ossur has given their popular Unloader design a remarkable innovation by incorporation latest technologies and biomechanical research with a holistic approach to creating a powerful unloading knee brace that effectively addresses the symptoms of immobility and pain suffered by Osteoarthritis patients.

Ossur Unloader One Knee Brace Undersleeve

The new Unloader One is an extremely light-weight brace that features new breathable padding with a silicone coating to completely eliminate the troubles of slipping and rotation.

Its dual dynamic force straps provide the patients with an easy-to-adjust control system, which allows them to effectively manage their pain and symptoms.

The durable buckle and strapping system make application and removal incredibly simple that even patients with arthritic hands can use without any trouble.

The lightweight frame allows greater flexibility and effective ventilation to avoid the accumulation of heat and moisture, while the upright contours allow the patient greater anatomy and increased unloading capabilities.

With this unloader knee brace, the patients can easily control pain management, while the breathable padding system ensures enhanced comfort. This lightweight brace can even be worn underneath the clothing.

Ossur Unloader One Knee Brace Undersleeve (Black, X-Large)

1. Orthomen OA Unloading Knee Brace

The innovative Orthomen OA unloader knee brace is specifically designed to help patients suffering from unicompartmental osteoarthritis of the knee effectively manage their symptoms of pain, pressure, and immobility.

Doctors often recommend this unloading knee frame as an effective option to correct the knee and delay the need for a surgical operation.

This innovative unloader brace features a low-profile and lightweight design with 3 points of leverage that work to reduce the pressure from inside the knee joints.

Orthomen OA Unloading Knee Brace

It features a universal size that will fit a wide range of patients without difficulty. Its innovative strapping system allows easy adjustment and a snug fit, along with quick snaps that make application and removal immensely easy.

It is considered as one of the best unloading knee braces for patients with unicompartmental osteoarthritis, but it can only be used to manage mild to moderate symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit from its use, and patients suffering from meniscal cartilage derangement will also find this unloading knee brace immensely beneficial.

Its innovative design aids in providing the knee joints enhanced support by sharing the load and stress of the affected knee with its lightweight design and superior, comfortable fit.

Its 3-point leverage system allows effective redistribution of pain and pressure, while the adjustable ROM hinge makes pain management immensely easy. The patient can use the valgus and varus adjustments to ensure the brace fits their individual alignments.

Though is a bit expensive than other knee braces in the market, it does provide the value for money and help users to reduce the pain to a certain extent.

Orthomen OA Unloader Knee Brace – Lateral/Outside Support for Arthritis Pain, Osteoarthritis, Cartilage Defect Repair, Avascular Necrosis, Tibial Plateau Fracture

Types of Knee Brace

There are various types of knee braces, and your doctor will recommend you the right one based on the gravity and location of your knee injury or pain.

Let’s take a look at the major types of knee braces:

Unloader Knee Brace

An unloader knee brace serves to reduce the knee pain caused by osteoarthritis by lowering the stress emerging from the ailing area of the knee. [06]

It exerts pressure on the thigh bone from three different points, and it aids the knee in bending from the painful area by unloading the pressure and transferring it from within the damaged area towards the outer part of the knee.

Your orthopaedist or orthopedic surgeon will recommend an unloader knee brace if you have osteoarthritis, which tends to affect the inner part of the knee, also known as the medial compartment knee.

Some healthcare provider believes that it doesn’t add any benefits. Evidence base studies show inconclusive results. So, more research required to understand the efficacy of knee braces. [07]

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis tend to have the symptoms of a wobbly knee from either the inner or the outer part of the knee. The unloader knee brace provides a great deal of support to the painful area with its unloading hinge.

Unloader knee brace helps to shift the pressure from the abnormal side of the knee joint to the healthy side. It provides comfort, pain relief, stability and support to the knee joint in case of osteoarthritis.

Offloader Knee Brace

An offloader knee brace serves the purpose of exerting a gentle amount of pressure towards the healthy side of the knee in order to eliminate compression and the squeezing sensation felt within the painful area to align the knee.

The brace features a thumbwheel dial hinge to facilitate the process of offloading. Doctors recommend offloader braces to both, those with injury knee pain and osteoarthritis.

Prophylactic Knee Brace

A prophylactic knee brace is used to reduce the severity of the injuries occurred on the ligament and the medical collateral ligament in the knee, along with preventing further damage.

These braces are usually recommended to those who have suffered a sports-related knee injury.

Rehabilitation Knee Brace

A rehabilitation knee brace is designed to provide an injured knee enhanced support and protection after undergoing a surgical operation or to promote general rehabilitation.

This kind of braces have been designed to aid limited range movements, and they feature special hinges that get locked to limit motion.

After an injury has been sustained, doctors usually recommend these braces for a period of 6-12 weeks, and you can find them at any pharmacy or retail store.

Functional Knee Brace

Functional knee braces are recommended to provide enhanced stability and assistance to facilitate the movement of patients who have unsteady knees.

They are designed for everyday activities, sports and you either pick them out from a retail store or have them custom-made to suit your personalized needs.

They are considered as de-rotation braces that serve the purpose of providing enhanced stability to an affected knee joint, and they are often used to support knees with ligament injuries.

The functional knee braces feature both lateral and medial bars along with various kinds of strap and hinges designs.

They are designed to facilitate speed and movement while engaging in sports-related activities, and they can even be used by runners and other athletes while performing.

They are also considered beneficial for patients with osteoarthritis to reduce the weight exerted on painful knee joints.

How Does Unloader Knee Brace Works?

The unloader knee brace is a specialized design made from foam, molded plastic, and steel struts to limit side motion and facilitate movement.

Its design supports and exerts pressure on thigh bone from three different points, which helps the knee in bending from the painful affected area of the knee.

Basically, the unloader knee brace serves the purpose of unloading the stress or pressure and transferring it from the inside of the knee to the outer area of the knee.

As the name suggests, it is designed to unload the stress from the ailing joint in order to facilitate bending and movement.

Doctors often recommend unloader knee braces to patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the medial compartment knee, which is a kind of arthritis that deteriorates the inner area of the knee.

Patients who suffer from medial knee osteoarthritis experience immense instability and difficulty while walking because their knees actually begin to turn wobbly from the inside.

Certain innovative designs of unloader knee braces can be adjusted by the unloading hinge to provide unloading support to either the lateral or outer part of the knee, or even the medial or inner part of the knee.

Unloader Knee Brace Buying Guide

We’ve created the perfect buying guide to help you pick out the best unloader knee braces to facilitate your knee injury.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Brace Qualities

Whether you suffer from knee arthritis or have suffered a grave sports-related injury, an unloader knee brace is an absolute necessity to help protect your affected area and facilitate mobility.

We’ve listed down all the basic qualities that you need to seek in order to pick out the best unloader knee brace for your injury.

  • It must provide your knee enhanced protection from the bottom, front and top.
  • It should protect your knee with side-impacts.
  • It must have two straps on the calf muscle to make sure the brace doesn’t slip off.
  • It must feature adjustable tension straps.
  • It should contain a comfortable foam padding inside to provide extra-cushioned support.
  • The braces should have poly-axial hinges that facilitate natural joint movements.

Things to Remember
If your doctor recommends you to get an unloader knee brace, be sure to keep these essential tips in mind:

Unloader knee braces usually tend to have bulky designs, which requires loose pant legs to make sure it doesn’t appear awkward or uncomfortable.

Be sure to check your insurance cover because unloader knee braces tend to be expensive.

Unloader knee braces are usually recommended to facilitate rehabilitation alongside other osteoarthritis treatments, however, using them alone to manage your symptoms is never advisable.

Be sure to continue taking your physical therapy, medications and other treatments as recommended by your doctor.

Unloader knee braces come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, so be sure to do your research extensively and ask your doctor about all the features you need to look out for. If you are extremely confused, take the assistance of a professional in choosing the right brace for your condition.

Be sure to consult your doctor on the types of unloader knee braces that would prove to be most beneficial for your condition, and the type you pick out shoulder be specifically designed to address the problems, symptoms and limitations you intend to overcome.

Suitable Brace Size

Sizing is an extremely essential aspect to keep an eye on because it is the factor that ensures your comfort and support.

All braces come with measurements to help you seek out the best fit for your condition. Some braces require a measurement of the knee, others start measuring 3-inches above or below the knee, while some braces even require a calf and thigh measurement.

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References:
[01] Gohal C, Shanmugaraj A, Tate P, Horner NS, Bedi A, Adili A, Khan M. Effectiveness of Valgus Offloading Knee Braces in the Treatment of Medial Compartment Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review. doi: 10.1177/1941738118763913
[02] SCOTT A. PALUSKA, M.D.,and DOUGLAS B. MCKEAG, M.D., M.S., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center–Shadyside, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Knee Braces: Current Evidence and Clinical Recommendations for Their Use. Available from: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0115/p411.html
[03] Salata MJ, Gibbs AE, Sekiya JK. The effectiveness of prophylactic knee bracing in american football: a systematic review. doi: 10.1177/1941738110378986
[04] Yeung SS, Yeung EW, Gillespie LD. Interventions for preventing lower limb soft-tissue running injuries. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001256.pub2
[05] Ossur U KO. Unloader One; 2017. Available at: https://www.ossur.co.uk/oa-solutions/oa-products/oa-knee/oa-knee-braces/unloader-one. Accessed Sep. 11, 2019
[06] Mistry, D. A., Chandratreya, A., & Lee, P. (2018). An Update on Unloading Knee Braces in the Treatment of Unicompartmental Knee Osteoarthritis from the Last 10 Years: A Literature Review. Surgery journal (New York, N.Y.), 4(3), e110–e118. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1661382.
[07] Hjartarson, H. F., & Toksvig-Larsen, S. (2018). The clinical effect of an unloader brace on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, a randomized placebo controlled trial with one year follow up. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 19(1), 341. doi: 10.1186/s12891-018-2256-7.

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