Which knee brace is best?

Knee pain affects millions of people each year. The human knee absorbs weight and pressure from our daily activities, exercise and occasional overuse. That can lead to injury or strain, which can affect your quality of life.

Knee braces support and strengthen the knee while it heals, or even on a healthy knee to prevent injury. Finding the right knee brace can accelerate your recovery and help you live a more active, less painful life. For the most comfort and support, the Shock Doctor Bionic Brace is a top choice.

What to know before you buy a knee brace

Types of knee braces

There are four types of knee braces. Each serves a different therapeutic need.

  • Sleeve knee braces slide over your knee joint and provide compression for swelling. You should not use them for supporting ligaments. 
  • Strap knee braces feature a thin strap that wraps around the knee below the kneecap. They are used only for specific conditions such as jumper’s knee and Iliotibial Band Syndrome. 
  • Wraparound knee braces feature a patella hole and provide stability above and below the knee, since the brace wraps around with a Velcro fastener. 
  • Wraparound knee braces with hinges offer the most support by allowing the knee to move naturally.

Pain type

Different conditions and injuries lead to different levels of pain.

  • Chronic conditions such as arthritis or a previous injury require more support and swelling reduction.
  • Acute injuries such as a ligament tear need proper support for the ligaments to heal correctly and more quickly.

Sometimes you may not know why there is knee pain. Braces can still help, although consulting your health care professional to determine the exact reason is recommended.

How much weight can your leg bear?

Rigid braces with hinges weigh a lot more than compression sleeves and strap braces. Even though you get sturdier support with rigid braces, they can tire your leg over time. Try increasing the amount of time you wear a rigid brace each day to help your leg adjust.

What to look for in a quality knee brace


Braces that let you adjust tightness and position can improve your comfort and better control swelling.

Position control

Softer braces can shift around as you move around. The best way to combat this is to look for braces with straps secured by Velcro. Without those fasteners, some braces will need to be readjusted throughout the day.

Open patella hole

Many knee braces have an open patella hole that fits the natural design of your knee. This improves comfort and flexibility. However, some sleeve braces cover the entire kneecap, which can create skin irritation as your knee flexes throughout the day.

How much you can expect to spend on a knee brace

Prices vary widely depending on the brace’s primary use, design and materials. Simple over-the-counter knee braces start at $30 and run to $300, while some knee braces for rehabilitation and post-surgery support can exceed $800.

Knee brace FAQ

How long do you wear a knee brace each day?

A. Your condition and overall therapeutic goals determine how long you wear the brace each day. You should wear most braces most of the day, but your doctor may want you to wear them less or for different periods. Also, be aware of any skin friction that might cause sores over time. Unless your doctor says otherwise, most braces should be removed before you sleep.

How will you know if the brace is effective?

A. Typically, a good brace will help reduce swelling in your knee and alleviate some pain. You also should find that your knee is stronger when out of the brace. Bear in mind that this can take several days to weeks, depending on the severity of your injury or pain level.

What’s the best knee brace to buy?

Top knee brace

Shock Doctor Bionic Knee Brace with Compression Sleeve

Shock Doctor Bionic Knee Brace with Compression Sleeve

What you need to know: This top-quality knee brace features an advanced design that provides excellent support and a customized fit.

What you’ll love: Its lightweight exoskeleton is semi-rigid, which allows for a full range of motion, while the compression sleeve provides excellent comfort. The brace comes with washable thigh pads.

What you should consider: Some users found it challenging to find a comfortable fit.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top knee brace for the money

Mueller Sports Medicine Hinged Knee Brace

Mueller Sports Medicine Hinged Knee Brace

What you need to know: This affordable brace provides sturdy support for physically active people.

What you’ll love: There are side hinges to prevent hyperextension and cross straps for greater support. The brace is self-adjustable and comes from a trusted brand. It includes odor control.

What you should consider: Some users found the side hinges too rigid.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Shock Doctor 870 Knee Brace

Shock Doctor 870 Knee Brace

What you need to know: This affordable brace is specially designed for moderate sprains and offers extra support.

What you’ll love: You can stay physically active with support from wrap-around straps and four-way stretch Lycra mesh. Vented for breathability, this brace uses antimicrobial compounds for odor control.

What you should consider: There can be some difficulty removing the brace because of how tightly it fits.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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