Diet and Knee Brace Use Shown to Help Osteoarthritis Treatments

As no consistently effective disease-modifying treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) has been identified, the emphasis in treatment has remained on strategies such as weight loss and the use of knee braces, as several studies have shown. Using a valgus knee brace can help improve pain and function in patients with medial knee osteoarthritis, a meta-analysis found.

In six randomized studies that included 445 patients, a small but statistically significant benefit was seen for the valgus brace on pain, with a standardized mean difference (SMD) of 0.33 (95% CI 0.13-0.52, P=0.001), according to Trevor B. Birmingham, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

There also was a significant improvement for function, with an SMD of 0.22 (95% CI 0.02-0.41, P=0.03), the researchers reported online in Arthritis Care and Research.

“Braces that apply a valgus torque to the knee are intended to shift load from the medial compartment and thereby improve pain and function. Although numerous studies suggest valgus knee bracing can alter joint biomechanics to varying extents, the related effects on pain and function are unclear,” they wrote.

Because of these uncertain effects and conflicting advice in treatment recommendations, Birmingham’s group conducted a systematic review of the literature for studies that compared the brace with no orthosis or with another type of orthosis such as a neutrally aligned brace or neoprene sleeve.

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