Knee Osteoarthritis & Unloader Braces

By April 4, 2022 May 11th, 2022 No Comments

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. About 54 million US adults were estimated to have arthritis in a 2015 National Health Interview Survey. After re-examination of the data in this study by Boston University School of Medicine, it was estimated that arthritis affects 91 million US adults or about 37% of the population. This estimate includes 61 million people between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age.

30% in men and 31 percent in women age 18 to 64 years old.

56% in men and 69% in women ages 65 and older ( PMID 29178176).

22% of adults world wide older than 40 have knee osteoarthritis and at least 14 million Americans have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

20% of people in the US over the age of 45 suffer from knee osteoarthritis in a 2017 study.

The prevalence of knee arthritis has doubled since 1940 in the US.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. OA is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between the bones. This breakdown causes bone changes leading to stiffness, pain and swelling. Subsequent loss of normal ranges of motion in the joint.


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Loss of motion in the joint
  • Stiffness

Risk Factors

  • Age- OA increase with advancing age
  • Gender- Women are more likely to develop OA after age 50
  • Genetics- People with family members with OA are more likely to develop OA
  • Race- Although seen in all races, Asian populations have a lower incidence of OA
  • Obesity- Obesity puts higher stress on the joint space causing it to breakdown
  • Joint overuse or injury- Repetitive bending or stress as in sports
  • Prior Surgery to the joint


  • Physical Therapy with muscle strengthening- emphasis to increase the supporting structures of the knee
  • Weight Loss- It has been theorized 1 lb. weight loss that’s 4 lbs. pressure of the knee joint
  • Medications- to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Supportive devices such as bracing- braces to unload the side of the knee where the pain is located

Unloading Braces Used in Osteoarthritis

With cartilage loss, the knee deviates from normal anatomical position. This deviation is called a valgus deformity (knocked kneed). In this condition the knees touch when straightened. In a varus deformity (bowed leg) the knees deviate outward when straight. In both conditions, the inner or outer aspect of the knee joint is compressed and causes the symptoms.

An Unloading Brace, stabilizes the knee in such a manner the areas of compression are unloaded and the symptoms are greatly or completely reduced.


  • Unloading knee brace is a cost-effective method to bridge and delay surgery in unicompartmental knee arthritis BMJ Open Sport Exer Med 2017 Feb 21;2(1):e000195 PMID 28879034

This study looked at unloading bracing over a 8 year follow up and concluded unloading bracing is cost effective for the management of OA. Unloader knee brace increases medial compartment joint space during gait in knee osteoarthritis patients.

  • Knee Surg Sports Traumatol 2019 Jul;27(7): 2354-2360. PMID 30386999

The purpose of this study was to prove the hypothesis the dynamic joint space would be greater with the unloader brace than without during gait.

Conclusion: The unloader brace has the significant effect of increasing medial compartment joint space during gait which supports the underlying premise the unloader brace reduces pain by increasing joint space during activities.

  • An update on unloading knee braces in the treatment of unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis from the last 10 years: A literature review Surg J 2018 Jul2;4(3): e110-e118 PMID 29978048

The background of this review was to review studies done in the past 10 years and 14 published articles were reviewed. Almost all articles supported knee brace use and showed it to reduce pain, increase function and improve the quality of life.

Conclusion: The unloader braces are an economical and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis. They can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life and potentially delay the need for surgery. Patients should be managed with a multidisciplinary approach with conservative management and knee bracing before surgery is considered.

  • The effect of unloader knee braces on medial meniscal strain Prosthet Orthot Int 2019 Apr;43(2):132-139  PMID 30200814

Background: A medial meniscal tear is a common knee injury especially following an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Decreasing the compressive force on the medial meniscus. During dynamic activities using an unloader brace could reduce meniscal strain effectively reducing injury risk or severity

Conclusion: Unloader braces effectively reduced strain in the medial meniscus during dynamic activities Therefore, unloader braces could also be used to reduce the medial meniscus strain following meniscal surgery and during rehabilitation

The Integrative Practice Solutions The IPS OAide 3000™ Knee Brace has been shown by x-ray proven studies to unload the compartment of the osteoarthritic knee joint.

The IPS OAide 3000™ is adjustable for both valgus and varus applications, light weight yet durable, and cushioned with memory foam to avoid the skin irritation associated with bracing.

The IPS OAide 3000™ has an available suspension wrap that keeps the brace from migrating and also prevents friction from rubbing. The suspension sleeve is a universally sized item and does not require trimming. The suspension sleeve when used in conjunction with the IPS OAide 3000™ knee brace will prevent migration by compressing the soft tissue and improve patient comfort.

Clinically tested and modified over years of research and development in thousands of patients, using the best space age products, the IPS OAide 3000™ provides the best available state of the art technology resulting in positive outcomes in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

Integrative Practice Solutions provides clinical treatments and solutions to patients suffering from osteoarthritis.