Minimizing Knee Brace Slippage
Many patients are seen here at Bionic who have been prescribed bracing for their knees for various reasons. From support to arthritis, to post-surgical protection, knee braces are one of the most common orthotic devices prescribed. Although there are several knee braces to combat different issues that may occur with the joint, there seems to be one common troublesome factor amongst the majority;
It is not uncommon for a patient to come back into our offices for an adjustment appointment for their knee braces due to its southern migration. Regardless to what kind of knee brace is given, gravity’s natural pull will always want your knee orthosis around your ankles rather than where it is supposed to be; however, I have a few tips that may help those of you who have to sport a knee orthosis to keep it in its rightful place.
- An important key point is wearing your knee orthosis as close to your skin as possible. Generally, our clothes can cause the brace to go south due to slick materials or the materials being too baggy (IE: tights, some leggings, jeans). When putting the brace directly on the skin, it gives the brace a better grip, thus preventing the brace from sliding down as much.
- For those who can’t tolerate the feeling of the brace directly on their person due to having sensitive skin, a thin layer of tubular stretch bandage placed only over an area that the brace covers may help with irritation. (Tubular stretch bandage may be purchased at Walgreens for under $10)
- Be sure that the brace is correctly anatomically lined and fit with your knee and leg. Patients who are told by their physicians that their braces may be removed and used as needed do not always re-apply their bracing correctly. While technically it would be difficult to get the brace flipped upside down, it is not impossible. The proximal end (the portion of your brace near your thigh) and distal end (the portion of the brace near your calf) must be secured where it is supposed to be. The proximal end of the brace is generally the wider side, while the distal end is narrow.
- If your brace has hinges, be sure that the bend of the hinge correctly lines up with the bend of your knee. If you have a pull-on style brace with no hinges, be sure that your knee is centered in the patella hole provided or in between the buttresses of the brace if there is no opening for your knee to peek through.
- Some braces have two holes where it looks like the knee should peek through. One is the actual patella (knee) hole, the other is the popliteal (knee pit) hole. To tell the difference, generally, the brand name of the brace is located on the front so that the knee brace won’t be put on backwards. If there is no brand name present and you are still confused, do not be afraid to contact your orthotic provider to get a walkthrough via phone conversation or schedule an appointment to ensure that your brace is correctly worn.
- Be sure that the brace is secured enough if the brace is a “wrap around” style and has Velcro strapping. Bracing is supposed to fit snug, but NOT cut off circulation. A brace needed for post-op care or healing of a fracture that is fit too tight can be just as much damaging as a brace that is too loose. If you feel tingling in your leg or if you feel your “heartbeat” in your limb, your brace is too tight.
- Be sure to follow the instructions step by step on how to correctly don (wear) the bracing provided. Practitioners who initially apply the knee brace for you will give you verbal instruction on how to properly wear your knee brace as well as a written instruction that generally comes from the manufacturer of the brace. It is imperative that when the instructions are given that they are followed as some knee bracing has an order in which the straps are to be fastened to prevent slippage and give the proper support.
These tips may seem minimal, but they can help a great deal and save you a trip to your orthotic provider. Slippage of a knee brace is common, but it can be fixed.