Do I Need to Wear a Knee Brace After ACL Surgery?

To Brace or Not to Brace, That Is the Question

Historically, surgeons have prescribed knee braces, like a Bledsoe brace, for patients who have had ACL surgery. The brace serves to stabilize your knee and allow your ACL to be protected while it heals properly. However, there has been increased scrutiny as to the effectiveness of using a knee brace after ACL surgery.

A knee Bledsoe brace
Brett Sears, PT

What Does the Knee Brace Do?

After you have ACL repair surgery, it takes time for the graft that the surgeon used to reconstruct your ACL to heal. During the healing process, which takes anywhere from eight to ten weeks, the new ligament is in danger of rupturing. Rupture of the ACL graft may occur if forces are placed on your knee that the graft cannot tolerate.

Wearing a knee brace, like a hinged Bledsoe brace, after ACL surgery is thought to protect the graft as it is healing. The brace helps to control the motion of your knee joint and limit the amount of range of motion around your knee. This is thought to help decrease force through the ACL graft and protect it while it heals.

What Does the Evidence Show?

A study published in 2014 examined the long-term effects of using a knee brace after ACL surgery versus using no brace at all. The researchers randomized 64 patients who had ACL surgery into two groups. One group used a brace after surgery, and the other group did not use a post-operative brace after their ACL surgery.

Four years after surgery, the researchers measured ACL ligament integrity, pain levels, and X-ray pictures in 52 of the original patients.


  • They found that there was no difference in ligament integrity between the group that used the brace and the group that didn't.
  • The patients who did not use a knee brace after surgery reported less pain during sports or heavy physical work activities.
  • There were no reported injuries in the no-brace group as compared to the brace group.

These results suggest that a post-operative brace is not required to have a good outcome.

What if My Surgeon Prescribes a Bledsoe Brace for Me?

Every person is different, and surgery for an ACL repair can be complicated. Different surgical techniques or different ACL grafts may be used, and complications may occur during your surgery. For these reasons, your healthcare provider may recommend you wear a brace after your surgery. Your best bet is to follow your healthcare provider's advice, but have a discussion with your practitioner to understand the need for your brace.

After your ACL surgery, you may benefit from physical therapy to help you regain knee strength and range of motion and to return to normal activity and function. Your PT can also teach you to properly wear and fit your brace if your healthcare provider recommends you use one.

A Word from Verywell

For years, surgeons have prescribed a knee brace for their patients following ACL repair surgery. More recently, evidence indicates that this may not be necessary. If you have had ACL surgery, talk with your healthcare provider about whether or not you need a brace following your procedure.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yang X, Feng J, He X, Wang F, Hu Y. The effect of knee bracing on the knee function and stability following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2019;105(6):1107-1114. doi:10.1016/j.otsr.2019.04.015

  2. American Physical Therapy Association. Physical therapy guide to anterior cruciate ligament tear.

  3. Mayr HO, Stüeken P, Münch EO, et al. Brace or no-brace after ACL graft? Four-year results of a prospective clinical trial. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2014;22(5):1156-1162. doi:10.1007/s00167-013-2564-2

By Brett Sears, PT
Brett Sears, PT, MDT, is a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience in orthopedic and hospital-based therapy.