Choosing the Best Knee Brace

There are multiple unloading braces for knee osteoarthritis, knee braces for ligament instability, knee braces for meniscal tears,

Selecting the right knee brace can be a daunting task when faced with all of the options on the market.  There are multiple unloading braces for knee osteoarthritis, knee braces for ligament instability, knee braces for meniscal tears, knee braces for patellafemoral, and knee braces for patellar tendonitis…whew!  To add to the potential confusion, for each one of these conditions, there are multiple options for bracing depending on patient lifestyle and degree of injury.  

Selecting the right knee brace can be a daunting task when faced with all of the options on the market.

With our 1hr assessments, our goal at SoleFit with locations in Ottawa and Vancouver is to ensure that we match up the perfect knee brace to the patient’s injury and lifestyle goals.  Here are a couple of things to consider when selecting the proper knee brace for your injury.

Things to Consider when selecting the proper knee brace

What injury is the knee brace meant to address?  This may seem obvious but we often see patients come through with knee braces that aren’t optimized for their primary injury.  A proper patient history is essential to understanding what condition needs to be dealt with.

What activity will you be using the knee brace for?  This is a very important consideration to ensure compliance with wearing the knee brace. We hate to think of patients with expensive knee braces sitting in the closet never worn because the brace was too bulky, hot, or not fitting well.  Even for the same injury, we often will recommend different knee braces to different patients based on lifestyle alone.  Here are a few scenarios below for an ACL tear (ligament instability).


CASE A: Moderate activity male with ACL surgery the previous year. Primary activity is walking his dog 2-3 x per week.  Minor swelling and discomfort in affected knee post activity.  

Suggested knee brace: Bauerfeind GenuTrain - medical grade compression knit, protection for mild ligament instability, pain relief,  lightweight and easy to put on adding to patient compliance.

Bauerfeind genutrain knee brace for running

Bauerfeind GenuTrain Knee Brace


CASE B: High activity female with ACL surgery 4 months ago.  Rehab went well but resuming soccer and rugby and concerned about the integrity of the knee.  

Suggested knee brace: DonJoy A22 - lightweight titanium cage brace that will provide superior protection for preventing re-injury of the affected knee.  

DonJoy A22 Knee Brace

CASE C: Low activity female with 10 year old ACL surgery but primarily concerned with osteoarthritis in the operated on knee. Activity is primarily gardening and walking.  

Suggested knee brace: Ossur Unloader One - lightweight knee brace that maximally unloads the affected knee, offering pain relief and stability.

Ossur Unloader One Knee Brace

Cost.  In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about cost when selecting medical devices but unfortunately, for many cost is going to be a determining factor. The good news is that a more expensive knee brace in many cases is not necessarily a better knee brace depending on the injury and lifestyle requirements.  For the more expensive braces, off the shelf knee braces opposed to custom made knee braces is almost always an option depending on the shape of the leg. 


Brand.  We feel strongly that there is no best knee brace brand, and it’s important to look at all options from different brands in order to find the best one for the individuals needs.  DonJoy does a great job with ligament instability injuries, Ossur is known for their knee osteoarthritis unloader braces, and Bauerfeind tends to be one of the best compressive knit knee braces. That being said, most of the major knee brace brands will offer different options for a variety of conditions.

Adjustments.  Many patients aren’t aware that many of the knee braces can be adjusted after purchase to ensure a perfect fit.  Small adjustments can make huge differences for comfort and thus compliance with wearing the knee brace.

When knee braces are necessary, they can make a huge difference towards returning a patient to a pain free lifestyle and it’s important to take the time to ensure you get the best one for you.  We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments!

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