The 7 Best Knee Braces for Arthritis of 2021

These top picks will help you get back on your feet

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Knee Braces for Arthritis

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Our Top Picks
Ideal for those recovering from injuries or surgery, it's designed to relieve tendonitis symptoms and stay snug for long periods.
Cost-effective and supportive, it helps maintain proper patella alignment while its hinges help the knee prevent hyperextension.
Its bilateral hinges allow for ample movement while its side stabilizers ensure you don't feel weighed down.
Available in sizes XL through 6XL, its built-in steel springs provide extra stability no matter your activity.
It has an adjustable dial and flexion sliders, and features a varus-valgus correction that allows you to tailor it to your knee.
Ideal if you're new to knee braces, this sleeve evenly distributes pressure to reduce inflammation while improving blood flow.
The pull-on sleeve promises to provide a four-way stretch and allow for a full range of motion while staying in place.

If you’ve ever experienced knee pain—whether it’s from wear and tear or surgery—you have probably already discovered that the market is pretty saturated with options for knee braces. 

That said, it can be hard to know what exactly you should be looking for. To help clarify, Verywell Health tapped Jim McGahee, a doctor of physical therapy, who has six years of experience in orthopedics at the Habersham Medical Center. He explained that there are generally two types of knee braces: post-surgical, which a surgeon will prescribe so that they can determine the amount of movement necessary for healing; and over-the-counter. 

“Over-the-counter knee braces are what you would generally find at a pharmacy,” says McGahee. “There are a wide variety of knee braces to choose from—everything from simple knee sleeves to more rigid braces that may have some metal or hard plastic support and a hinge that allows the knee to bend.” 

McGahee adds that one of the most common causes of knee pain is osteoarthritis, "which is the degeneration of the knee due to aging, wear and tear, and previous injury history. There is some limited evidence of ‘unloader’ braces being beneficial for patients with OA by providing added support to the compromised knee.”

Here are the best knee braces for arthritis on the market today.

Best Overall: EzyFit Knee Brace Support Dual Stabilizers & Open Patella

EzyFit Knee Brace
Pros
  • Anti-slip straps

  • Open spot for the patella

  • Side stabilizers

Cons
  • Velcro may be slightly uncomfortable to some

  • Not machine washable

The EzyFit knee brace covers all of your bases. It has anti-slip straps that are bi-directional and can keep the brace in place for long periods of time. It has an open spot at the patella, which is great for relieving any symptoms of tendonitis or patellofemoral-related pressure or pain. It’s also ideal for those who are working past injuries or need support on their journey to recovery after surgery. 

It’s made of neoprene, nylon and polyester, which makes it super easy for both washing and wearing. It also comes in three different sizes that truly fit a wide range of people.

Material: Neoprene, nylon, and polyester | Fit: Adjustable, comes in three different sizes | Feel: Soft and secure enough to exercise and workout in

Best Budget: Mueller Sports Medicine Adjustable Hinged Knee Brace

Mueller Adjustable Hinged Knee Brace
Pros
  • Self-adjusting

  • Durable

  • Side metal hinges

Cons
  • One size fits most

Not only is this brace cost-effective, it’s super supportive. It’s perfect for those who are looking to maintain proper patella alignment during physical activities, as it’s self-adjusting and durable. It features straps that adhere in a criss-crossing pattern located both above and below the knee, so it’s sure to stay in place as you’re moving around. 

It’s also made of antimicrobial material that works to eliminate odors, and it has an open back that won't bunch up. It also has hinges on either side of the knee, which extend and support the knee to prevent hyperextension.

Material: Antimicrobial fiber that helps eliminate odors | Fit: Self-adjustable, open back and front patella hole | Feel: Soft fabric, metal plates on sides covered by fabric

Best for Running: Shock Doctor Hinged Knee Brace

Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression

Pros
  • Comes in multiple sizes; measure for best fit

  • Antimicrobial technology reduces odor causing bacteria

  • Fits over left or right knee

Cons
  • Expensive price point

  • Has tabs to help pull on, but not ones that help pull it off

You can tell from looking at this brace that it’s heavy-duty—and it really is. It has bilateral hinges that allow for ample movement while still providing the support you need. It also has side stabilizers that are super flexible so you never feel weighed down. 

This brace also has super grip tabs so that it’s easy to get on and fitted properly. It works to lift and compress the knee so that you experience improved blood flow. It’s also great for people with arthritis, hypertension, patella instability, meniscus injuries, or minor ligament sprains.

Material: Neoprene, vented | Fit: X-Fit strap provides stability by wrapping lag with cushioned comfort strap | Feel: Soft, cushioned

Best for Plus Sizes: Nvorliy Plus Size Knee Brace

Nvorliy Plus Size Knee Brace
Pros
  • Extended sizing

  • Adjustable straps to ensure perfect fit

  • Designed with six flexible springs for support

Cons
  • May run small

  • Velcro placement may be uncomfortable

It can be unnecessarily difficult to find the correct sizing, but this brace eliminates all of those worries. It comes in an XL through 6XL and relieves pressure enough to provide immediate pain relief. It contains six built-in steel springs, which are intended to provide extra stability. This brace is designed with activities in mind—so don’t you worry about putting too much pressure on it. 

While there is an extensive sizing guide available, there are also adjustable straps that will help you personally tailor the amount of pressure that’s put on your knee and patella. The brace is made of neoprene, nylon, and spandex, and is specifically formulated with materials that are intended to reduce smell and bacteria buildup.

Material: Neoprene, nylon, and spandex | Fit: Adjustable | Feel: Cushioned support

Best Unloader Brace: Brace Align Osteoarthritis Unloader Adjustable ROM Stabilizing Knee Brace

Best Unloader Brace: Osteoarthritis Unloader Adjustable ROM Stabilizing Knee Brace
Pros
  • Varus-valgus corrector that tailors to you needs

Cons
  • Metal hinge adjustable with tools only

  • May be too heavy-duty for minor injuries/needs

The goal of unloader knee braces is to shift pressure off of the injured part of your knee. This one is completely adjustable and features a varus-valgus correction that allows you to tailor it entirely to your knee. It also has an adjustable dial and flexion sliders, both of which work to add stability and support.

Material: Non-slip fabric | Fit: Adjustable | Feel: Open, flexible feel minimal fabric padded under metal braces

Best for Night: CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace

CAMBIVO Knee Brace, Knee Compression Sleeve
Pros
  • 3D knitting technology that provides stable pressure for knee

  • Suitable for sports

Cons
  • No patella or back hole

  • Completely covered material may not be comfortable for everyone

If you’re thinking of trying a knee brace for the first time, McGahee says that sleeves are the place to start, especially if you aren’t sure if the knee brace is for you. “Start with a sleeve since they are usually very cheap and if it helps, great,” says McGahee, adding that if it doesn't help, you haven't wasted a ton of money.

This brace is made of anti-slip silicone so you don’t have to worry about it moving around. It evenly distributes pressure in order to reduce swelling and inflammation while improving blood flow.

Material: 65% Nylon, 20% latex, and 15% spandex | Fit: Different sizes, snug fit | Feel: Durable elastic material provides flexibility and breathability

Best for Pain: Physix Gear Knee Support Brace

Physix Gear Knee Support Brace
Pros
  • Allows for full range of motion

  • Features no-slip silicone grip to keep it from sliding around

Cons
  • Pull on-design may be difficult for some people to place on

  • Hand wash only

Since this sleeve is made of a nylon-lycra blend, it’s super breathable and provides a four-way stretch. While it will definitely provide your knee with a lot of support, it also allows for a full range of motion. It’s super snug and has a no-slip silicone grip that will keep it in place.

Material: Nylon-lycra blend | Fit: Comes in different sizes | Feel: Comfortable stretch and breathable fabric feel

Final Verdict

Talk to your doctor about trying a knee brace for arthritis, or test one out during physical activities to see if it improves your pain. There are many treatment options for arthritis, so make sure you work with your doctor to find the best regimen suited for you. Knee arthritis is located deep inside of a knee, so using a knee brace may not be the perfect quick-fix solution for everyone. Start with a cheaper, breathable option to wear during physical activities to see if your arthritis pain improves. If you're looking for a starter brace, the Mueller Adjustable Hinged Knee Brace (view at Amazon) is an affordable way to try one out. But if you know your knee braces and want one that has a little more support, EzyFit Knee Brace (view at Amazon) is another good option.

What to Look for in a Knee Brace

Type

There are three main types of knee braces: a compression, sleeve-like brace, a brace that features metal hinges, and, as mentioned previously, a brace with an open hole cut out for your knee. A compression sleeve brace is good for reducing inflammation and can be good for sleeping since it’ll prevent your knee from moving (and straining further) while you sleep. However, for arthritis, you typically want to look for a knee brace that allows for a full range of motion and doesn’t limit mobility or cause stiffness. 

Material

Some of the most common materials you’ll see in arthritis knee braces are neoprene, polyester, and nylon. If your knee brace has hinges, it may feature some metal components on the sides. Whichever fabric or material you choose entirely depends on what’s most comfortable for you. Traditional neoprene is not breathable, but it is thermal and helps provide extra insulation. Depending on how it feels on your skin or the weather outside, you may want to adjust the type of material you use. Some braces are made out of vented neoprene, which allows for more airflow and even moisture-wicking capabilities. Lightweight neoprene may also be a more breathable option. Consider your needs, the climate, and any allergies to materials before making your decision. 

Fit

Most knee braces you can buy online come in different sizes or are sized to different genders. Compression “sleeve” knee braces, may have to be chosen to more exact sizing, whereas wrap-around type braces are able to be personally adjusted to your knee size. 

Knee braces with hinges are typically worn post-surgery. “Knee braces are typically used for protective or stabilizing functions,” says Vikram Sathyendra, MD, a New Jersey-based orthopedic surgeon. He also specializes in orthopedics. “I typically use braces after a sprain of one of the collateral ligaments in the knee (the ligaments on the side of the knee) or post-surgery to protect a ligament repair. I also use patellofemoral braces to improve tracking of the patella (kneecap) and reduce anterior knee pain in patellofemoral syndrome.” 

In rare cases, your doctor may suggest a custom knee brace that can suit your exact needs.

Potential Dangers

According to Dr. Sathyendra, “evidence is pretty mixed and inconclusive in terms of using a brace for arthritis in the knee.” If you find a knee brace does help alleviate your arthritis pain, make sure you let your doctor know you’ve decided to wear one, and closely monitor the usage together.

“Typically, knee arthritis affects the inside part of the knee,” says Dr. Sathyendra. “Logically, offloading this part of the joint and putting more pressure on the outside part of the knee should alleviate some of the pain and stress. However, there is no study which shows that offloading braces, designed to re-align the leg back into place and lessen the pressure on knee joints, actually work.”  

Knee braces can actually make your knee stiffer, so if you notice the opposite effect that the brace is supposed to have—i.e. limited mobility—make sure to stop wearing it and consult with your doctor immediately. “By offloading one part of the knee joint, we are now putting more of a load onto another part of the knee joint. If there is already arthritis in the outside part of the knee, we can aggravate that part of the knee,” says Dr. Sathyendra.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should you wear a knee brace for arthritis?

    “This depends on the injury,” says Dr. Vikrum Sathyendra, MD. A minor sprain typically needs two weeks whereas a post-surgery knee brace may require up to three months. If you notice your brace is limiting your range of motion or causing joints to increasingly stiffen, stop using and contact your doctor.

  • Can you wear a knee brace for arthritis to bed?

    If this is recommended by your doctor, yes. Make sure to pay attention to any stiffening or limited range of motion that occurs as a result of wearing a knee brace. Most doctors don’t recommend sleeping in them, but if you need it to stabilize your knee after surgery, then use it.

What the Experts Say

“Except in trauma situations, where you want to look for knee immobilizers for a fracture, I would look for knee braces that are not bulky and allow for range of motion of the knee. For patellofemoral syndrome, I would recommend a sleeve rather than an actual brace with metal hinges.”—Vikram Sathyendra, M.D., orthopedic surgeon based in New Jersey

Why Trust Verywell Health?

An experienced health writer, Brittany Loggins understands how important it is to have a comprehensive understanding of the products she's recommending. All of the products found in her pieces have either been tested by her first hand or have been recommended by trusted medical professionals.

Additional reporting for this story by Brittany Leitner

As a health writer with over eight years of experience, Brittany Leitner understands how important access to information is when it comes to making educated health decisions. She has interviewed dozens of medical experts, tested out hundreds of products, and aims to provide quality recommendations that won't break the bank.

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  1. Ghorbani E, Hasani H, Rafeian H, Hashemibeni B. Analysis of the thermal comfort and impact properties of the neoprene-spacer fabric structure for preventing the joint damagesInt J Prev Med. 2013;4(7):761-766.

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