Can Doctors Prescribe Knee Braces?
Knee injuries are so common that from 1999 to 2008, 6.6 million of them occurred in the US alone. Sports-related injuries to the knee are also widespread, occurring at a rate of 2.5 million each year. Now that you have such an injury yourself, you may be wondering, "can doctors prescribe knee braces?"
Yes, they can, and they even do so regularly. Researchers even found that 19% of physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors prescribe them. The same study found that one in 10 rheumatologists prescribe knee braces too.
When Can Doctors Prescribe Knee Braces?
Doctors often prescribe knee braces for patients who've sustained injuries like torn ligaments. Some physicians also write knee brace prescriptions for patients with osteoarthritis. In other cases, healthcare providers recommend these devices to help with pain relief.
Why Do Doctors Prescribe Knee Braces?
A doctor may prescribe a knee brace if the patient needs extra knee support following an injury. The knee brace can help stabilize and immobilize the injured knee. Securing the affected knee in place can help it recover faster and more efficiently.
Some doctors may also prescribe knee braces as a form of extra protection for injured knees. This is especially true for ACL injuries, as these knee problems can have up to a 24% recurrence rate.
Patients who experience knee pain may also get prescribed with a knee brace. Many patients often report having reduced pain with the use of knee braces. In some studies, those who had knee pain also reported improved mobility and quality of life.
What Injuries Do Physicians Prescribe Knee Braces For?
A knee injury can result from any damage to the ligaments, tendons, or bursae of the knee. The trauma can also develop around or within the knee joint, bones, or ligaments. In such situations, a doctor may prescribe knee braces to help the knee recover.
Here are some of the most common knee injuries in which doctors may recommend the use of knee braces.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear
The ACL is one of the four primary ligaments that help keep the knee joint stable. It links the femur, or thighbone, to the tibia, or shinbone. Because of its function and position, it's also one of the most susceptible to tear injuries.
Sudden stops and pivots are among the primary causes of ACL tears. That's why these injuries are common among players of basketball, volleyball, and soccer. They're also quite prevalent in tennis athletes who run, stop, and pivot all the time during play.
Four bones make up the knee's anatomy, and these can break during accidents. For example, a fall accident can deliver a blow severe enough to fracture the patella (kneecap). One in five falls, unfortunately, can result in broken bones (or a head injury).
Knee fractures are also common not just in athletes but in older people too. One reason is that aging puts a person at a higher risk of falls, and many also have osteoporosis. Experts also say that 54 million US adults are at risk of breaking a bone, including any of the bones of the knee.
The meniscus is a type of cushioning cartilage that sits between the tibia and the femur. Each knee joint has two menisci, either or both of which can get torn due to a sudden twisting movement. In this case, the meniscus tear can cause burning pain in the affected knee.
Tendonitis (or tendinitis) occurs when one or more tendons get irritated and inflamed. There are two main tendons in the knee, but the patellar tendon is more prone to tendinitis. This condition affects many cyclists, runners, and volleyball players.
The bursae are fluid-filled sacs that minimize friction between the bones and muscles. However, overuse of the knees can result in one or more bursae near the knee joint to become swollen. This can result in knee bursitis, which is another inflammatory condition of the knee.
What Other Medical Conditions Do Doctors Prescribe Knee Braces For?
Individuals with knee osteoarthritis (OA) may also get a knee brace prescribed by a doctor. Knee OA is a degenerative joint disease that results from wear and tear. It's progressive, and, if left untreated, can lead to a significant loss of cartilage.
Do Physicians Prescribe Knee Braces for Post-Surgery Use?
Yes, physicians can also prescribe knee braces for patients who've undergone knee surgery. In this case, bracing can help prevent unnecessary or excessive movement in the knees. The brace also helps stabilize the healing knee, helping reduce the risks of re-injury.
What Types of Knee Braces Do Doctors Usually Prescribe?
Most doctors prescribe knee braces for patients who have existing injuries or illnesses. These commonly-prescribed contraptions are "functional" or "rehabilitative" braces. However, they can also get prescribed to patients who have a high risk of getting injured.
Hinged knee braces are those often prescribed to post-surgery patients. They come with hinged bars on one or both sides of the knee designed to secure the knee joint in place. This stabilization limits any unnatural movement of the still-healing knee.
Immobilizing the treated knee can help prevent complications after the operation. Also, limiting the knee's movement can help it heal with a reduced risk of misalignment.
Consider talking to your doctor about getting a soft knee brace to help you recover from an injury. These braces provide compression, warmth, and functional cushioning to weak or painful knees. They also deliver stabilization and structural support to injured knees.
High-quality soft braces also feature moisture-wicking components. This helps ensure that your skin can breathe and won't get bruised or irritated. All these characteristics make them comfortable for all-day or long-term wear.
Unloader Knee Brace
A doctor can prescribe an unloader knee brace for osteoarthritis. The term "unloader" refers to how the brace shifts the weight off of the damaged area of the knee. It "unloads" the weight off of the OA-affected section, thereby reducing pain.
The reduced discomfort can then help make it easier to walk and get around. In addition, improved pain symptoms may help you become more active on your feet.
Knee Pads for Arthritis
Many studies found heat therapy to be helpful in relieving arthritis pain. That's because applying heat helps dilate the blood vessels within an arthritic area. This widening of the vessels then allows more blood to circulate and reach achy joints.
Improved circulation translates to increased blood, oxygen, and nutrients. So, by boosting circulation to your arthritic knees, you may feel less pain. Moreover, the improved blood flow can also help relax stiff joints and muscles.
As such, if you have knee arthritis, your doctor may also prescribe self-heating knee pads. These compress and warm up arthritic joints, providing welcome pain relief.
Do You Always Need a Doctor's Prescription for Knee Braces?
No, you don't. You can purchase knee braces even without a prescription. You can buy "over-the-counter" prophylactic, functional, or unloader braces.
Prophylactic knee braces are those designed to minimize the risk of new injuries. However, they may also help reduce the odds of re-injury, as well as aid in the recovery of an injured knee. Some, like the self-heating knee pads, can help alleviate acute and chronic knee pain.
You can also purchase and wear non-prescription knee braces when playing sports. Padded knee braces, for instance, can help minimize your risk of sports injuries. It's the kind that volleyball players, skateboarders, and even footballers use.
Considerations When Buying Non-Prescription Knee Braces
While it's easy to buy a non-prescription knee brace, it's best to talk to your doctor first if you plan to use one. This is especially important if you suspect a knee injury but unsure if you do have one. This way, your doctor can run tests to see if you did sustain a joint, bone, ligament, cartilage, or tendon damage.
Also, keep in mind that knee braces can only be helpful if they're the right fit. This is easy to achieve if you go for adjustable knee braces, which you can tighten or loosen whenever. For non-adjustable braces, it's a must to measure the circumference of your thigh and calf.
Stay On Your Feet With the Help of Knee Braces
There you have it; all the answers related to your question, "can doctors prescribe knee braces?" Now, you know that they can, and they regularly do. At the same time, you also learned that you don't always need a prescription to purchase knee braces.
Either way, we still recommend you seek your doctor's advice before ordering a knee brace. This way, you can make a smarter choice once you're ready to place an order.
All set to invest in a high-quality knee brace but need more help in finding the perfect fit? If so, then please allow our team here at PowerRebound to help! Feel free to get in touch with us, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.