The most common cause of disability in the United States is knee osteoarthritis (OA). This disease affects more than 27 million Americans commonly older than −40 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2012). Osteoarthritis develops gradually over a period of years and results in the gradual deterioration of the hyaline cartilage that covers the articulating surfaces of the knee joint. In most people, the disease is idiopathic but can also be hereditary or the result of trauma, which causes pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and localized swelling in the knee (Brandt and Slemenda. Osteoarthritis epidemiology, pathology and pathogenesis. In: Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. 10th Ed. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation; 1993, p 18408). Knee OA cannot be cured, but there are interventions available to help manage the symptoms. An unloading knee orthosis is one course of action. The principle of the unloader knee brace is to create a varus or a valgus moment at the knee, creating additional space in the joint space, thus relieving pain caused by bone-on-bone contact and improving function within the knee for activities of daily living (ADLs) (Kirkley et al. J Bone Joint Surg 1999;81:539–547. Sharma et al. JAMA 2001;286:188–195). After extensive research, 42 custom and off-the-shelf OA knee braces are currently available within the United States for patients with varus and valgus gonarthrosis secondary to OA. Upon further examination, it was noted that only 15 of the 42 have evidence-based information to support their effectiveness in relieving symptoms common within the knee for an individual with a diagnosis of OA. The 15 braces are SofTec OA brace (Bauerfeind), Thruster 2/Dynamic Unloading Osteoarthritis (DUO) (Bledsoe), Legacy Thruster OA (Bledsoe), Fusion OA (Breg), Defiance OA (Donjoy), OA Adjuster (Donjoy), OA Nano (Donjoy), OAsys (Őssur), Unloader ADJ (Őssur), Unloader Express (Őssur), Unloader One (Őssur), Unloader Select (Őssur), Unloader Spirit (Őssur), Genu Arthro-Model 28K29/21 (Ottobock), and Bionicare Knee System (VQ OrthoCare). The purpose of this article was twofold. The first was to examine the pros and cons indicated within the evidence-based articles for each of the 15 OA knee braces currently on the market, and the second was to provide an updated picture for each of the 15 braces, as well as the manufacturer, description, indication(s), features, warranty, and approximate price list.
KELLY S. BROOKS, BS, CP, is affiliated with New Mexico VA Health Care System, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Disclosure: The author declares no conflict of interest.
Correspondence to: Kelly S. Brooks, BS, CP, 701 Stephen Moody St SE, Apt 711, Albuquerque, NM 87123; email: email@example.com