Best knee brace


He also notes that you don’t have to wear a brace just because you have knee arthritis. You should only wear one if it decreases pain with activity and helps you move better.

Knee Braces for Osteoarthritis

Knee pain from osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis in your knees can bring your activity to a grinding halt. The cartilage tissue that lets your knee joints glide smoothly gets thinner and rougher over time with knee arthritis.

These changes to your joints cause pain and feelings of instability. You may find that a knee brace for osteoarthritis helps you keep moving, from playing the sports you love to going on a hike.

When should you wear a knee brace for osteoarthritis?

“The time to wear a knee brace is when you’re doing activities that typically would make your knee hurt,” says David C. Thut, MD, a Mass General Brigham orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist who cares for patients at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. You shouldn’t wear a knee brace when sitting still or sleeping.

He also notes that you don’t have to wear a brace just because you have knee arthritis. You should only wear one if it decreases pain with activity and helps you move better.

Do knee braces help with osteoarthritis?

While braces don’t keep knee arthritis from worsening, they can help reduce osteoarthritis knee pain. “You may find that braces are very comfortable for you,” says Dr. Thut, “or you may find that they don’t help a whole lot.”

You have to take some time to figure out which knee brace for osteoarthritis, if any, works for you. Your health care provider can help you understand which type best fits your needs if you have a knee injury or other knee condition.

Types of knee braces for osteoarthritis

In general, braces provide knee support for osteoarthritis and can reduce knee pain. Each type of knee brace for osteoarthritis works in different ways. Braces may apply compression (pressure) to your soft tissues, stabilize your knee, or redistribute your weight.

Compression sleeves for arthritic knees

A compression sleeve is a stretchy brace that fits snugly over your knee. The brace hugs the area around your knee to help reduce swelling and increase comfort. It can also help you feel more stable by improving your awareness of your knee’s location in space (proprioception).

Some compression sleeves have a hole in the front. “Those can be helpful if you have more arthritis in the kneecap joint (the front of your knee),” explains Dr. Thut. “They help line up the kneecap in the groove it’s supposed to sit in.”

Some compression sleeves also have adjustable straps. This feature allows you to customize the tension and fit, and help the brace to stay up. The right fit provides compression without feeling too tight or causing swelling below your knee.

Hinged knee brace

A hinged knee brace is similar to a compression sleeve, but also has a short hinge on one or both sides. The hinge, which may be rubber or metal, moves with the bending and straightening of your knee.

“Hinged braces give some compression and help with proprioception, but they also lend a little side-to-side stability,” says Dr. Thut. “They can help you feel steadier and help decrease osteoarthritis knee pain.”

Unloader knee brace

An unloader knee brace is a longer and more rigid hinged brace. It’s a custom or semi-custom knee brace from a specialist called an orthotist. You might find standard unloader braces online. However, Dr. Thut says a customized fit, tension, and hinge settings ensure the brace works correctly for your knee.

“Unloader braces are mostly for people who have arthritis on the medial (inner) side of the knee,” says Dr. Thut. “When you have medial arthritis, the brace helps force more of your weight to be born through the lateral (outer) side of the knee and less through the worn-out, medial side.” An unloader brace may also help with osteoarthritis on the outer side of your knee.

Dr. Thut recommends this type of knee support for severe pain on the inner side of your knee (the medial knee). He highlights that unloader knee braces have the most research and rationale supporting their use.

What type of knee brace is best for osteoarthritis?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The best knee brace for osteoarthritis depends on your individual diagnosis and body type.

You can easily (and somewhat affordably) find compression knee braces at drugstores, pharmacies, and online. If you’re considering a more expensive, complex brace, Dr. Thut recommends talking with your health care provider first.

The right brace will relieve osteoarthritis knee pain during activity and not slide down with movement. It also won’t irritate your skin or cause swelling below your knee.

A brace should be something that you use in addition to doing physical therapy exercises and keeping your legs strong.

David C. Thut, MD

Mass General Brigham

Comprehensive knee arthritis treatment

While a brace can give your knee support for osteoarthritis, it’s not a replacement for other treatments. “A knee brace is part of a conservative treatment program for arthritis,” says Dr. Thut.

Other things that help manage osteoarthritis knee pain include:

  • Doing physical therapy exercises (PDF)
  • Staying fit
  • Managing your weight
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Knee injections

“Physical therapy has been shown to be the most effective nonsurgical treatment for osteoarthritis in many studies,” highlights Dr. Thut. “A brace should be something that you use in addition to doing physical therapy exercises and keeping your legs strong.”


Bauerfeind’s® knee braces and supports provide rapid relief from pain by soothing the areas that hurt and delivering the stability you need. The muscles, tendons and ligaments of the knee are the most common areas of the body to suffer pain and injury: From arthritis, ACL tears, knee surgery, ligament tears in the thigh or muscle pulls, injuries, soreness, knee pain and inflammation can interfere with your daily life.

Bauerfeind knee braces help reduce pain and swelling, providing joint stability and supporting your painful area without limiting mobility. Our knit material and special viscoelastic cushioned pads make the brace the most comfortable you will ever wear.

The net gain? Less pain. More stability. Bauerfeind knee braces and supports give you the confidence to do what moves you.

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Compare our GenuTrain Knee Braces

Bauerfeind’s knee braces and active supports provide stability, gentle massage and medical-grade compression to help support and heal the knee from injury. The German-engineered technology of Bauerfeind braces maximizes proprioceptive feedback and the body’s natural regenerative systems to protect the knee and speed recovery. To learn more about Bauerfeind braces, visit our Knee Braces page.

This depends on which type of knee brace you need. In most cases, you can purchase the right knee brace for your condition directly, without a prescription. Knee braces like the GenuTrain, GenuTrain P3, GenuTrain A3 and GenuTrain S are all available through

If you have a more advanced injury or condition, especially one requiring surgery, you might need a more restrictive knee brace that’s only available by a physician’s prescription. If you receive a prescription you may be eligible for a free or reduced-cost knee brace through your insurance company. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Bauerfeind knee braces and supports are eligible for reimbursement through most FSA (Flexible Spending Account), HSA (Healthcare Savings Account) and HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) plans. Please consult your specific plan administrator for more details.

We strongly recommend that you do not wear a knee support over your clothing. For one thing, doing so will prevent the proprioceptive properties from taking effect and also inhibit the activation/training of the sensorimotor system. In addition, clothing absorbs nearly all of the positive effects of the individual functional elements. For example, instead of experiencing a slight massaging effect in certain areas and pressure application or relief in others, your clothing will press against your painful knee in a more or less uncontrolled manner. This is not only inefficient; it can also be painful and lead to chafing (skin irritation).

Because you should wear your knee brace directly against your skin, it will inevitably come into contact with the sweat and grime from your body. For this reason choosing a washable knee brace is very important. All Bauerfeind knee braces and supports are machine washable and easy to care for. In fact, Bauerfeind recommends regular washing to maintain the shape and compression of the knitted fabric.

For products with Velcro straps, pads or inserts, remove them if possible, or fasten them securely at the place provided on the brace. Machine wash your brace in cold water using the gentle or delicate cycle. Wash separately using a laundry detergent with no additives (do not use fabric softener or Woolite). Lay your support flat and let it air-dry; do not put it in the dryer. Proper washing and drying helps your knit support maintain its elasticity and original fit.

Knee braces and supports from Bauerfeind are also sometimes known as “active supports“ – i.e. they make it easier for those who wear them to move around. It’s actually this movement that enables the supports to have their positive effect on the body and the healing process. The massage function and the intermittent compression cannot be activated when you’re immobile, however. For this reason, wearing the support at night is not effective. It’s better if you wear the knee support during the day when you’re active and then let your knee relax at night.