One of the many unfortunate side effects of COVID-19’s impact on Ontario’s healthcare system is that many surgeries are being delayed. If you had an upcoming knee replacement surgery planned, there is a chance that it may be postponed. While that news is no doubt disappointing, it doesn’t mean you have to live life in limbo until your surgery is rescheduled. Today’s knee bracing solutions can provide significant relief from the issues related to mobility and pain that may be holding you back.
Bracing As An Alternative to Knee Replacement Surgery
Most candidates for knee replacement surgery suffer from one of three common knee issues:
When arthritis impacts the knee cap, the inside of the knee grinds on the femur, causing arthritic pain. Braces that address this condition are specifically designed to realign and stabilize the knee cap. This FX Patella Stabilizer from Ossur is an example of a bracing solution that keeps the patella tracking properly through the full range of motion.
Mild Knee Arthritis
In cases of mild knee arthritis, pain is caused by the grinding of the inside surfaces of the tibia and femur. The best braces to address this issue are those designed to stabilize the knee joint, keep it in an optimal position and support the soft tissue. Braces that wrap around the knee also provide warmth, which can help alleviate some of the stiffness that is often associated with arthritis. Ossur, one of our preferred brace suppliers, has a great knee brace called the Formfit OA Wraparound that gets rave reviews from our clients.
Moderate to Advanced Knee Arthritis
When arthritis of the knee is more advanced, the bracing solution that we often recommend aims to shift weight from the impacted compartment of the knee (most often the medial compartment) to the less impacted compartment of the knee. This approach, which is called offloading, reduces the pressure on the problem area to reduce pain and swelling and increase comfort. Ossur’s Unloader One X is a great example of this type of bracing solution. This brace is easy to use and effortless to wear thanks to the over 18 years of direct patient and practitioner experience that has gone into the device’s design.
Benefits of Bracing When Surgery is Delayed
If you’re experiencing a knee replacement surgery delay, bracing is an excellent alternative to consider. In addition to there being no wait time, it is pain-free and has none of the risks often associated with undergoing a major surgery such as surgical complications or infection. Another thing to keep in mind is that surgery isn’t always a silver bullet solution. While there is no doubt that knee replacement surgery can offer life-changing benefits for those that respond well to it, the success rate isn’t 100%. One U.S. study of patients who had total knee replacement surgery found that after two years they reported having improved their knee pain and function by 36%. Interestingly, that number is comparable to the benefits seen in those who hadn’t had the surgery but had successfully dieted and lost 10% of their body weight. If your surgery has been delayed, think of this additional time as a period to experiment with some different approaches. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn!
According to Andrew Litner, one of PBO Group’s Certified Orthotists, “Joint replacement surgery can be an intimidating decision, inherent with risk and, due to our current health climate, inaccessible to many. Custom bracing is a risk-free alternative that has many of my patients wishing they had done it sooner, and never considering a painful surgery again.”
This Isn’t The Time To DIY
At PBO Group, one of the common complaints we hear from clients who have tried braces in the past and have not been happy with the results is that they had problems with the brace slipping and not being comfortable. Often, that occurs because their brace doesn’t fit them properly. While it may be tempting to order a brace that you’ve found online, working with one of PBO Group’s Certified Orthotists will help ensure your brace fits correctly and is doing what your body needs most. At PBO Group, our Certified Orthotists will continue to work with you until we feel AND you feel that the brace is fitting and working optimally. Many knee braces also qualify for government or private insurance funding, and PBO Group staff will help you investigate and apply for any applicable programs that could help reduce the cost of your device.