(RxWiki News) It's been established that braces for the knees can provide relief from pain and protection from injury. But until now, not much was known on whether knee braces can pinpoint pain in the kneecap.
Knee braces can ease pain from osteoarthritis specifically in the kneecap, according to a study recently presented at a conference.
The findings show that the brace is a step forward from relying on painkillers and reducing the chances of needing joint surgery, according to researchers.
"Knee pain? Consider wearing a brace."
Researchers under the direction of Michael Callaghan, PhD, clinical specialist and research associate in the Institute of Inflammation and Repair at the University of Manchester, looked at the differences between wearing a brace designed with the patella in mind versus having no treatment at all.
The study included 126 individuals between 40 and 70 years of age with osteoarthritis in their knees. More than half the participants were women.
Patients had pain and tenderness for at least three months before the start of the study while kneeling, stair climbing and sitting or squatting for a prolonged period of time.
Their pain scores were at least 40 out of 100 points (with 100 as most painful) in the activity they found most aggravating.
Half the patients were given the Bioskin Patellar Tracking Q Brace, a lightweight, flexible lycra brace fitted around the knee, to wear for three months. The rest of the patients were treated after a delay to compare the experience while not being treated.
Researchers measured patients' pain levels while climbing and descending stairs, kneeling, squatting and slope walking.
Knee pain during the last week before starting treatment and knee osteoarthritis outcome scores, which take pain, function and quality of life into account, were also tracked.
Significant improvements were made in osteoarthritis symptoms, pain, knee stiffness, muscle strength and function after six weeks of wearing the brace, researchers found.
“Patients repeatedly told us that wearing the brace made their knee feel more secure, stable and supported,” Dr. Callaghan said in a press release. “Our theory is that these sensations gave the patient confidence to move the knee more normally and this helped in improving muscle strength, knee function and symptoms.”
With the brace, knee alignment was corrected and the chances of needing surgery on the joints were reduced, according to Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK.
"This approach is a real advance over relying on pain killers and has the potential to reduce the need for joint surgery and replacement, procedures often employed when the symptoms become uncontrollable," Dr. Silman said in a press release.
The study, funded by Arthritis Research UK, was presented April 19 at the Osteoarthritis Research Society International meeting in Philadelphia.