Background: Unloader knee braces are a viable and cost-effective alternative in for treatment of medial osteoarthritis of the knee in selected patients. They provide the potential to predict which patients could benefit from a high tibial osteotomy (HTO) and which patients should better be treated which a unicondylar or bicondylar knee replacement.
Discussion: A direct clinical benefit in pain reduction as well as improved knee function has been shown in several clinical studies; however, the underlying mechanism remains uncertain. A potential reduction of the load in the medial compartment of the knee joint by reducing the varus or valgus deformity as well as a reduction of enhanced muscle contraction is discussed.
Conclusion: Despite the promising short-term results, possible long-term benefits of unloader braces are controversial. As possible reasons, natural progression of the underlying osteoarthritis as well as compliance of the patients to wear the braces diminishes significantly with time.
- Orthotic devices