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What Are the Different Types of Knee Ligament Braces?

Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Updated May 17, 2024
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Knee ligament braces are designed to stabilize the knee when the ligaments are weakened or are otherwise in need of additional support. Some of these knee ligament braces can feature a very simple design intended to provide compression against the knee ligaments, while others may be more complex and offer more lateral rigidity. More complex braces are likely to feature metal or plastic parts that aid in stability, while less complex models will feature fabrics only, such as nylon, Lycra®, neoprene, or even silicone. The best brace will depend on the user's needs and the degree to which the knee is injured.

When the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, of the knee is damaged, knee ligament braces will usually be necessary during and after the recovery phase that follows surgery. These ACL knee ligament braces usually feature hinged supports on either side of the knee that increase lateral stability while still allowing for normal front to back motion. These braces will usually feature some sort of padding that will press against the sides of the knee where the brace is hinged; this increases support and comfort while wearing the brace. This type of brace is also likely to feature padded plastic framing both above and below the knee.

Patella support braces can be considered knee ligament braces because they support ligaments throughout the knee, but they also have an added function: a specially designed front helps keep the patella lined up laterally. Some people have problems with a floating patella, which occurs when the kneecap does not line up properly with the rest of the joint. This can lead to pain, weakness, or a reduction in effective mobility. Patella support braces help keep the knee cap in line throughout the normal motion of the knee without impeding movement too much.

Sleeve-style knee ligament braces are made of tight fitting fabrics such as Lycra® and neoprene, and they slide over the knee to provide extra support to the ligaments. These are generally considered light-duty braces that will not stabilize the knee laterally in the same way a hinged brace will. For a person suffering from minor knee pain or weakness, however, the sleeve style brace will be sufficient. It is also advantageous because it can fit underneath pants very easily without bulking up or impeding normal movement. Neoprene braces can cause sweating, however, which can lead to discomfort.

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