What is a knee brace?

Knee braces are devices worn by people who have pain or discomfort in one or both knees. The brace helps to stabilize (secure and support) the knee and keep it from being hurt further.

Several types of knee braces are available:

  • Compression neoprene knee braces, or knee sleeves, that support the knee and help prevent swelling and pain
  • Knee immobilizers that keep the knee from moving
  • Knee braces that stabilize the kneecap and reduce pain
  • Knee braces that stabilize the knee after sports injury
  • Unloader knee braces that shift body weight away from the injured part of the knee to a stronger area

When do people wear a knee brace?

People may wear a knee brace in the following situations:

  • While recovering from surgery
  • While playing sports
  • To relieve pain from a knee injury
  • To relieve arthritis pain

Some knee braces are designed for continuous use. Others are only intended for use during exercise or sports. Your doctor can recommend a knee brace for your needs and medical history and tell you how to use it.

What are the benefits of knee braces?

Knee braces can:

  • Support and stabilize your knees
  • Help relieve pain
  • Make it easier to move

Certain types of knee braces, like knee sleeves, also provide compression (gentle pressure) around the knee tissues, which may help reduce swelling. Many people report that knee braces allow them to move with more comfort and confidence.

What are the risks of knee braces?

Knee braces may cause pain or further injury to the knee if they are not worn properly. If your doctor recommends a knee brace, be sure to check its fit and placement regularly after you put it on.

A knee brace is not a substitute for professional medical care. You should see your doctor if you are considering using a knee brace. Remember, there is debate between doctors if knee braces offer benefit or not, so always check with your healthcare provider.

What should I ask my doctor about a knee brace?

Before using a knee brace, you may want to ask your doctor these questions:

  • Do I need a knee brace?
  • How long should I wear a knee brace?
  • Are there other treatments I could use instead of a knee brace?
  • When should I make a follow-up appointment to determine whether the knee brace is helping?

When should I call my doctor about a knee brace?

Contact your doctor if you wear a knee brace and develop any unusual symptoms, including:

  • Pain that gets worse
  • Skin irritation
  • Swelling
  • Numbness in your leg or foot

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/03/2019.


  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Knee Bracing: What Works? (https://familydoctor.org/knee-bracing-what-works/) Accessed 7/10/2019.
  • American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Arthritis of the Knee. (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/arthritis-of-the-knee) Accessed 7/10/2019.
  • Arthritis Foundation. When Knees Need Support. (https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/joint-protection/knee-brace.php) Accessed 7/10/2019.

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