Types of Knee Braces


Whether you're a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior, or much more laid-back when it comes to exercise, knee problems can happen to anyone.  Maybe you’ll move more slowly or notice your performance slip.  Or perhaps you’ll limit the amount you walk, work or participate fully in recreational activity.  The bottom line is that knee pain can drastically impact your sports performance, day-to-day mobility, and overall quality of life. 

Finding the right remedy is key.  Along with physical therapy, stretching or medication, your doctor may prescribe a brace as part of your treatment plan.  Most braces are designed to maximize support, increase joint stability and control motion to help prevent further injury.  Many are developed to help relieve swelling, optimize healing and reduce pain overall.  And some are specifically prescribed for post-surgery rehabilitation and recovery.

Choosing the Best Type of Knee Brace

There are lots of knee brace options but depending upon your specific needs, choosing the right one can be a challenge.

“Think about the amount of stability you need for the activities that you’d like to perform. Look for something that you’ll feel confident wearing while still offering the protection & mobility necessary for the demands of your day-to-day life,” said Certified Athletic Therapist and Össur mobility expert Lauren Gavrailoff, CAT(C).  “Check with your doctor if you are unsure which is a better option for your needs.”

  • Double Hinged Knee Brace
  • Best for ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL Injuries
  • Protects and Stabilizes
  • Carbon Fiber Frame with Flexible Cuffs
Formfit Pro Knee OA
  • Knee Sleeve
  • Best for Early Stages of Osteoarthritis
  • Unloads the Knee Joint and Provides Pain Relief
Formfit OA Wraparound
  • Wraparound Knee Brace
  • Best for Moderate Knee Pain and Osteoarthritis
  • Promotes Compression and Stability
Unloader One X
  • Singled Hinged Knee Braces
  • Best for Severe Osteoarthritis Knee Pain
  • Unloads the Knee Joint and Provides Pain Relief

Double Hinged Knee Braces

Best for Hyperextensions, ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL Injuries

Hinged knee braces are designed to provide external stabilization the knee joint for patients suffering from mild to moderate strains, sprains or complete ligament tears (ACL/PCL/MCL/LCL). They are intended to provide excellent stability, protection and compression during injury recovery.  Rigid, cage-style hinged knee braces provide the most support while hinged sleeves made from strong and breathable materials provide comfort while remaining highly durable.

Try the CTi OTS double-hinged knee brace for ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL injuries.

CTi OTS double hinged knee brace

Knee Sleeves

Best for Strains, Sprains and Early Stages of Osteoarthritis

Providing valuable compression, knee sleeves increase blood flow and reduce pain.  They are designed to provide support for mild to moderate instabilities, including patellar instabilities and support after dislocation, as well as pain relief for symptoms of the early stages of OA.   Typically constructed with soft and flexible materials and a supportive buttress for the patella, they fit easily under clothing. Knee sleeves can also have the following features:

  • OPEN / CLOSED POPLITEAL: many knee braces have the option for an open or closed popliteal (behind the knee) area to reduce material and improve comfort, or improve blood circulation, respectively.
  • OPEN / CLOSED PATELLA: the kneecap (or patella) can be left uncovered at the front of the knee to relieve pressure on the patella and improve breathability. Conversely, a closed patella sleeve offers similar support but with added heat retention to improve blood circulation. 

Try the Formfit Pro Knee performance sleeves for mild to moderate knee instabilities.

Formfit Pro Knee OA Sleeve

Singled Hinged Knee Braces

Best for Severe Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

With more support and function than wraparound knee braces, single-hinged braces are best suited for patients with severe knee pain due to uni-compartmental knee osteoarthritis (OA). Advances in technology have allowed a discrete look while allowing fine-tuned pain relief to meet low-to-high impact activity demands, and have been proven to improve mobility and reduce knee pain.
Try the Unloader One X prescription brace for unicompartmental knee osteoarthrits.

Unloader One X Osteoarthritis Knee Brace

Wraparound Knee Braces

Best for Moderate Knee Pain and Osteoarthritis

Discreet and comfortable, wraparound knee braces are a great option for patients with mild to moderate knee pain due to uni-compartmental knee osteoarthritis (OA) or minor instabilities. The wraparound design promotes compression and stability that is easy to put on and remove, especially for elderly patients or those with poor finger dexterity or strength. This supportive brace accommodates most leg shape variations due to its wrapround straps and frame and may or may not have hinges.

Try the Formfit OA Wraparound knee brace for mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis.

Formfit OA Ease Wraparound Brace

Knee Straps

Best for Runner’s or Jumper’s Knee

Knee straps are knee supports that help relieve the symptoms of runner’s knee (patella-femoral pain syndrome), jumper’s knee and acute knee pain.  They are designed to provide targeted and continual pressure through the patella tendon, therefore improving patellar tracking (kneecap movement).

My Brace Selector

Still need more help? We’ve developed a brace selector tool to help you find the best brace for your needs.

If you’re still struggling with knee pain and aren’t quite sure what to do, be sure to check with your doctor. It's best to know what you're dealing with before risking further injury.