Why Wear A Custom Knee Brace While You Wait For Knee Surgery
With the wait times for knee surgery what they are in Nova Scotia, it can be difficult to fathom having to live with the pain, instability, and/or decreased function for the months or years it can take before you get a call for surgery. That being said, wearing a custom knee brace in the interim can have a significant positive impact on your comfort level and overall function. The two most common conditions in which a knee brace would be beneficial prior to surgery:
- Osteoarthritis awaiting a knee replacement
- ACL tear awaiting an ACL reconstruction surgery
A full frame custom knee brace can help in both these cases.
Waiting for a Knee Replacement:
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the cartilage in the knee joint. As the cartilage deteriorates, there is often damage to the meniscus, and the space between the thigh and shin bone diminishes as well. Learn more about injuries and arthritis. This is often what is referred to as “bone on bone”. Without that space or the cushion provided by the cartilage and meniscus the load or forces going through the joint are greater. Common symptoms include pain, inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and decreased function. Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, and the result is often a knee replacement. However, the time it takes from getting a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon, and then the time from seeing the surgeon to having the surgery can be long.
In the meantime, an offloading knee brace can reduce the amount of force on the affected side of the joint. This can help to decrease pain and increase functionality while you are waiting for surgery, allowing you to return to or maintain your daily activities without having to rely on others. The benefits are significant, both mentally and physically. You can start or continue with physical activity for weight management and health reasons, as well as work on exercises to increase strength and muscle mass before surgery. All of this can have a positive impact on your quality of life while waiting for surgery, as well as the outcome of your surgery.
Waiting for a Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction:
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) attaches towards the back of the femur (thigh) and the front of the tibia (shin). It functions to prevent anterior tibial translation caused by the force of the quadriceps and resist against rotational loads. In other words, the ACL works with the hamstring to maintain the position of the shin bone in relation to the thigh bone, by preventing it from sliding forwards. As you can imagine, without that ligament intact, there is a lot of instability in the knee joint, specifically during twisting/ rotation and weightbearing as you go into extension. Common symptoms include instability, pain, swelling, and decreased ROM.
While waiting for an ACL reconstruction surgery, a full frame custom knee brace can help counteract the force of the quadriceps, in the way the ACL would function. Wearing a brace after injury and before surgery will help to stabilize the knee joint and reduce the risk of re-injury while you wait, which is important to minimize the possibility of complications. It can help maintain modified physical activity and muscle strengthening. Similar to someone awaiting a knee replacement, this can help with quality of life and the outcome and rehabilitation of your surgery.
No matter what type of surgery you are scheduled for, or waiting to be scheduled for, a custom knee brace can improve your day to day life and what you are able to do. To find out more or be fitted for a custom brace you can call or contact Arthritis and Injury Care to book a no charge consultation with one of the bracing specialists.