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Bracing for a New Arthritis Treatment

Knee pain from osteoarthritis is no walk in the park. In fact, the pain probably keeps you from walks in the park. Could wearing a knee brace help you overcome this discomfort?

Unloader Brace

Often, arthritis affects only one compartment of the knee. This can result in your lower leg angling awkwardly and appearing “bow legged” (varus) or “knock kneed” (valgus). Special braces, called unloader braces, shift the workload from the arthritic compartment to the healthier compartment of the knee, pushing the knee toward a more normal position in the process. According to several published studies, these braces can increase the distance a patient can walk comfortably. Even better, for patients who cannot tolerate pain medications, braces can offer drug-free relief.
But unloader braces tend to be bulky and uncomfortable. Unless you invest in an expensive, custom-made brace, you may find yourself with bruised thighs and additional discomfort caused by poor fit. Nor are unloader braces suitable for all forms of osteoarthritis. Some rehabilitation specialists warn that extended or improper use of a brace can even hinder physical therapy, because it may decrease movement and circulation to the knee. Despite these caveats, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeonsstated in 2003 that unloader braces “may provide significant reduction in pain when properly fitted in selected patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.”
Rather than thinking of a knee brace as a cure, consider it another tool in your arsenal against arthritis—a crutch that can help you while we work toward building strength and flexibility in the knee. Talk with us about an exercise program that will strengthen the quadriceps muscles in your knee to improve the functionality of your brace. In time, you may even eliminate the need for your brace entirely.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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