Osteoarthritic knee braces have been developed to lessen loads in the degenerative compartment while subsequently reducing knee pain in patients with uni-compartmental arthritis.
The present study has demonstrated that articular separation of a degenerated knee compartment can be achieved consistently with two braces, but not as effectively with the other three braces tested in this study. Therefore, there is a difference in the results produced by off-the-shelf OA braces.
Previous kinematic studies on the effects of knee braces have concentrated primarily on the anterior cruciate ligament and the effects of bracing to stabilize the knee that has a deficiency of this ligament. The majority of those studies have concentrated on the analysis of functional knee braces with use of arthrometers.
Other studies have concentrated on the analysis of femorotibial translation through the use of roentgen stereophotogrammetric analysis techniques, subjective evaluation of bracing by categorizing pain and functional ability, and the determination of the effectiveness of different types of knee braces, such as cast bracing.
Although minimal research evaluating the efficiency of off-loading braces for the treatment of uni-compartmental arthritic degeneration has been performed, a previous study with an initial fluoroscopic analysis determined that bracing is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee in non-obese patients under weight-bearing conditions. In that investigation of a single type of brace, the results were not assessed for three-dimensional motion and the study did not determine whether different types of osteoarthritic knee braces would perform well under similar conditions.
The objective of the present study was to analyze subjects with symptomatic uni-compartmental osteoarthritis under in vivo, dynamic weight-bearing conditions with use of video fluoroscopy to determine whether five different off-loading knee braces provide separation of the medial femoral condyle from the tibial plateau, thus avoiding excessive loads on the degenerated compartment.
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