If you are looking for the best knee sleeve for arthritis, look no further. If you have knee osteoarthritis it is so important to do everything you can to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness. Knee compression sleeves can be more helpful than plastic knee braces. These compression sleeves don’t alter your mechanics and reduce pain because of the way your body senses the compression. For less than $20 you can get a pair of the best knee sleeve for arthritis. Learn more below.
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Why Knee compression sleeves and soft braces over hard knee braces?
When dealing with knee osteoarthritis, you may be given a choice to get a custom made knee brace or asked to purchase an expensive knee brace. There are certain circumstances where knee braces can be beneficial including:
- after surgery where range of motion needs to be restricted
- if you are in severe pain at least 75% of the time, 8+/10 on pain scale, without any relief after appropriate exercise, diet changes, and other inflammation management techniques
If you are dealing with intermittent knee pain and/or swelling, especially after activity, a hard knee brace may not be in your best interest from experience as a physical therapist.
Common knee braces that are prescribed for knee osteoarthritis are called knee offloading braces. What I don’t love about these braces (shown in the picture below) is they change the way you move. Those hard pieces prevent certain movements in your knee, which sounds great initially.
BUT, it is important to note that anytime you make a change to the way you move, your joints have to react. They may reduce your knee bend which then forces other parts of your body to compensate for that movement.
This can actually lead to pain in other areas of the body.
Like I mentioned previously, these braces can be good if you are in severe pain (consistently 8+/10) and likely are on the waitlist for a surgery. If you are able to find times of relief and want to stay active, I highly recommend trying a knee compression sleeve first.
why a compression sleeve for knee arthritis
Before exploring the best knee compression sleeve for arthritis, let’s look at how they work!
Knee compression sleeves are popular because they are inexpensive and can provide amazing benefits if you are dealing with knee osteoarthritis. Take a look at some of the benefits below.
(Here is everything you need to know about knee osteoarthritis before you keep reading!)
Compression sleeves and soft knee braces have been studied recently in the research to see the benefits it can have on knee arthritis symptoms. It has been found that:
Research also states, “A recent systematic review with meta-analyses on soft bracing in knee OA showed an immediate, moderate improvement in pain when wearing a soft brace”.
Many people with knee pain state that wearing these compression sleeves can provide confidence and decrease pain. I usually describe it to clients as “giving your knee joint a hug”. Compression usually feels really good to us and makes us feel safe, especially when in pain.
How knee compression sleeves and soft braces work
So how do these knee compression sleeves and soft braces work for arthritis? How do they provide pain relief?
Here is what the research says:
- “Mild compression provided by a soft brace might result in an improved sense of joint stability and greater confidence in the knee joint”
- “Thus, a soft brace, by providing warmth to the skin, may lead to less muscle contracture and therefore to reduced knee joint compressive forces”
- “A decrease in pain might be due to sensory stimulation of the skin, leading to a reduction in transmission of pain signals”
There are multiple theories why these knee compression sleeves help with arthritis pain. By providing warmth, stability, and reduction in pain signals, they can be very effective.
These soft braces and elastic compression sleeves also allow for more natural movement, which is especially important if you walk for your primary form of activity.
Compression sleeves can be one of the best ways to elicit immediate joint pain relief, especially in the knee. Here are the other 4 things that can help with pain relief too.
Here are 11 types of the best knee sleeve for arthritis. You have a lot of choices when it comes to knee sleeves for knee pain so choosing one of this list is a great place to start.
1. CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Compression Sleeve
When it comes to the best knee sleeve for arthritis, this one gives you both affordability and support.
They do have silicone anti-slip waves on both the top and the bottom of the knee sleeve to prevent or reduce slipping or rolling. These are also light and breathable.
Sizing is available from small to XXL.
For around $15, you’ll 2 knee sleeves. If you have pain or feelings of instability in both knees, I’d recommend this pair. Make sure you check the size chart to get the appropriate size.
2. MODVEL 2 Compression Sleeve 2-Pack
Another 2 pack here that is a little longer than the brace above. So this brace will cover more of your leg.
If you are dealing with pain that tends to spread above or below the knee, this longer brace may be more beneficial for you! Take a look at this brace here.
3. Copper Knee Sleeve
This Copper Brace comes with only one knee sleeve. There are many people that have success when trying copper products when searching for arthritis pain relief. This brace is made with 60% copper fiber cloth+40% spandex.
This sleeve may also be a little thicker than the two others above so it may be a little more difficult to get on.
If you have hand arthritis/stiffness, some of the thinner sleeves may be easier to put on.
The sizing though does go up to 6XL which is higher than most sleeves go. If you have had a hard time finding a sleeve that fits, this may be one of the best knee sleeves for arthritis for you!
4. Pure Support Knee Sleeve
If you feel as though your knee is going to frequently give out or with a history of a meniscus injury, you many find this extra support strap beneficial.
If you also have a hard time with knee sleeves rolling down or not staying up, the velcro piece may help to keep the sleeve in place.
This strap may slightly limit your motion but can be effective at providing support. If you have small legs and have a difficult time finding compression braces that fit, this may be a great option for your too!
5. DonJoy Performance TRIZONE Compression
At closer to $100 this will be a higher quality brace. I highly recommend this one if you have tried other cheaper braces and they didn’t work for you. Whether it was the sizing or difficulty staying place, this DONJOY will offer more stability and quality.
The carbonized bamboo circular knit construction allows for targeted, zonal compression around the knee joint with anti-bacterial and thermal regulating properties.
6. Elastic Knee Compression Bandage Wraps
If you have a hard time finding braces that fit appropriately, especially if they seem too small, this brand might be for you! These also will be helpful if you do experience a lot of knee swelling as you can modify the size very easily.
These come in wraps so you can control the size and the level of compression. Be careful with these to make sure you don’t make them too tight to avoid cutting off circulation.
7. TechWare Pro Knee Brace Support
If you desire a thicker brace and need more support, especially to give you more confidence during higher level activities like tennis or pickleball where you have to change directions quickly, this brace may be for you.
You may notice this soft brace limits your mobility more than the thinner sleeves. If you can’t fully straighten your knee with this brace on, I would adjust so you can with the velcro strap.
8. NEENCA with Patella Gel Pads & Side Stabilizers
This brace does contain a harder part on the side so take that into consideration. This brace can be beneficial if you have pain around your knee cap or feel like your knee cap has more flexibility than it should.
The gel ring around the knee cap can help to provide additional support. It can provide more stability for your knee cap specifically. Take a look at this brace here.
9. Mava Sports Reflexology Knee Support Sleeves (Pair)
Personally, I use these sleeves for weightlifting. They are easy to get on and provide enough support without limiting range of motion.
As far as looking for the best knee sleeve for arthritis, these will be great if you are looking for very light support. Mainly for higher level sports and other activities like weightlifting.
If you notice mild discomfort during certain exercises or are looking for mild support, these sleeves can be helpful.
10. Sparthos Leg Compression Sleeves
If you experience pain in your leg that is not necessarily specific to the knee or if you deal with leg or knee swelling– these leg sleeves may be beneficial to you!
These sleeves may be a little more difficult to size and put on, they can prevent excessive swelling better than some of the sleeves above. These may be beneficial also if you are planning on doing a lot of activity.
11. Patella Tendon Knee Strap 2 Pack
These straps can be very helpful if you experience pressure in the tendon right below your knee cap. They usually are easy to put on and can reduce pain in the patellar tendon.
If you have tried a sleeve from the list of the best knee sleeve for arthritis from above without success- these may be worth a try.
Using these straps can help if you are walking up and down hills in particular as your tendon may take a little more stress, especially if it is irritated already.
Depending on your symptoms, degree of swelling, and the sizing of the knee sleeve or soft brace, there are certain types of knee sleeves that are recommended.
When looking for the best knee sleeve for arthritis, this guide can help to offer different options based on what you are looking for.
Soft braces are meant to supplement your activity levels so you can get more out of your exercise without flaring up your pain.
If you are dealing with knee osteoarthritis pain that is impacting your ability to do the things you love, make sure you aren’t believing these common myths. IF you are, it may be negatively impacting how you are approaching your arthritis.
If you're looking to tackle your knee pain....
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Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this video or sit