Should I Buy a Knee or Back Brace at a Drugstore?

When you’re in pain, you may find yourself browsing the brace section at your local drugstore, wondering if one of these foam and Velcro devices could be the answer to your pain.

Braces seem to be available for almost any part of your body—back, elbows, knees, ankles, wrists, neck, etc. It’s understandable that you might want to try one, but in general, it’s best to see your doctor first.

The wrong brace, or the right brace that’s not fitted properly, could be a waste of money. Worse, it might even make your pain worse. The doctors at Tri-State Pain can tell you whether a brace will help you, and they can help fit you with one.

Here’s a quick look at two of the most popular types of braces—knee and back braces.

Knee braces

Knees are a common source of pain, so it’s not surprising that multiple types of braces are sold to help alleviate that pain. Studies are mixed on how well they work, but some people say they find them helpful. You can buy knee braces off the shelf or have them custom fitted.

Knee braces you may see or read about include:

  • Unloader braces, which shift weight away from the most damaged area of an arthritic knee to a stronger area.
  • Functional braces, which help stabilize a knee that has been previously injured to help avoid another injury.
  • Rehabilitative braces, which help stabilize the knee while it’s healing from an injury or a surgery.
  • Knee sleeves, whichprovide compression around the joint to help control pain and swelling.

You should check with your doctor about whether a knee brace can help you. Poorly fitted braces can irritate your skin and sometimes cause swelling around the joint.

A brace should not be a substitute for other measures that might help you more. For instance, losing weight and building the muscles that support your knee can be far more effective for long-term knee health.

Back braces

Some doctors recommend a brace to help with lower back pain, but you should talk to your doctor before getting one. For one thing, you need to make sure your back problem isn’t caused by something a brace can’t do anything about—such as a kidney infection.

If the doctor does recommend that you use a back brace, be sure you put it on correctly. Also, wear breathable clothes like cotton so that sweat evaporates easily and you’re less likely to develop red, irritated skin.

Studies have shown that back braces can help in the short term—they can make it easier for you stay active while your back heals. But you shouldn’t rely on a brace for long-term relief. If you do, you may lose muscle strength, which can cause more back pain. 

Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support your back will provide greater long-term benefit.

If you are suffering, please do not hesitate to call us. Located in Fort Mohave, we serve patients in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Dr. Benjamin Venger, our pain management expert, is here to help. Call us now at (928) 788-3333 or request an appointment online and don’t live another day with chronic pain!

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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