Knee Brace May Be Unnecessary After Surgery, Study Finds

September 01, 1998

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It may be unnecessary for athletes to fasten themselves into cumbersome braces after a specific reconstructive knee surgery, new research suggests.

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which stretches across the knee joint, are especially common among athletes whose sports involve jumping, turning and abrupt starts and stops. Part of the rehabilitation process includes wearing a knee brace for up to a year.

“We didn’t notice any difference after surgery between patients who wore braces and patients not wearing braces,” said Christopher Kaeding, associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University. “Our study implies a brace may be unnecessary after ACL reconstruction.”

Kaeding and his colleagues compared the rehabilitation rates of 77 patients that underwent ACL reconstructive surgery. The 47 patients assigned to wear a knee brace fared no better overall than the 30 given a pull-on elastic knee bandage, or sleeve. In fact, patients without the brace seemed slightly happier at not having to wear one.

Kaeding presented the results of the study at a recent meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

An ACL injury is a torn ligament that causes the knee to be loose. It is the most common devastating knee injury to athletes, according to Kaeding. Braces have been thought to protect the ACL-injured knee during rehabilitation.

“ACL braces were designed to stabilize the knee, to make it feel more trustworthy,” said Kaeding, who sees more than 200 ACL injuries each year. “The braces do seem to help some patients who haven’t had the surgery but have damaged their ACL.”

Reconstructive knee surgery improved significantly about 10 years ago. Before that, physicians depended on casts, splints and braces to protect the healing ligament by preventing a wide range of motion. Despite more aggressive rehabilitation in recent years, brace use was still thought to be necessary.

“The mind set was to protect the graft,” Kaeding said. “Yet a couple of years ago, my colleagues and I noticed some patients weren’t wearing their knee braces. And these patients were doing great.”

All patients in the current study underwent tests to determine the stability of the knee joint at three weeks and three, six and 12 months after surgery. Patients with the braces were told to wear their braces during sports and other physical activity for at least a year. The group with the sleeves could wear these when they wished.

An ACL reconstruction is designed to restore knee stability. When the ACL tears, the forward motion of the tibia, or shin bone, greatly increases in relation to the femur, or thigh bone. This causes pain and difficulty in using the knee. Successful ACL reconstruction restores near-normal tightness and stability in the knee.

“Both groups in our study were in the excellent recovery range after 12 months,” Kaeding said. “This study implies that a brace doesn’t seem to contribute that much to the protection of a knee after ACL reconstruction.

“And that’s the trend among knee surgeons across the country. This study doesn’t buck the trend, but it is the first time somebody has documented evidence that shows braces may not be helpful.”Co-authors for this study include Aasha Sinha, of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at Ohio State; Rose Backs, an athletic trainer at Ohio State’s University Sports Medicine Center; and Matthew Schatzke, also an athletic trainer.

###




Ohio State University

Related Physical Activity Articles from Brightsurf:

Physical activity in the morning could be most beneficial against cancer
The time of day when we exercise could affect the risk of cancer due to circadian disruption, according to a new study with about 3,000 Spanish people  

Physical activity and sleep in adults with arthritis
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has examined patterns of 24-hour physical activity and sleep among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and knee osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity seems to enhance cognition in children who need it most
Researchers at the Universities of Tsukuba and Kobe re-analyzed data from three experiments that tested whether physical activity interventions lead to improved cognitive skills in children.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults
New findings published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reveal how physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression
Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Is physical activity always good for the heart?
Physical activity is thought to be our greatest ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment
Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a UCL-led study.

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier blood lipid profile in menopausal women, but it doesn't seem to entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition.

Are US adults meeting physical activity guidelines?
The proportion of US adults adhering to the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' from the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't significantly improve between 2007 and 2016 but time spent sitting increased.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds do less vigorous physical activity
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minority backgrounds, including from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, have lower levels of vigorous physical activity, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Read More: Physical Activity News and Physical Activity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.