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Written by our Human Movement Specialists

Are you struggling with osteoarthritis knee pain that limits your mobility and affects your quality of life? If so, you're not alone. Alleviate your discomfort and make everyday activities easier with an unloader knee brace.

How unloader knee braces work

Unloader knee braces, also known as unloading knee braces, are specialized orthotic devices designed to alleviate pressure on specific areas of the knee joint affected by conditions such as osteoarthritis and meniscus tears. Unlike traditional knee braces that aim to provide overall support and stability, unloader braces target the damaged compartment of the knee, redistributing forces to healthier areas.


The biomechanics of unloader braces involve careful consideration of the knee's anatomy and kinematics. These braces are custom-designed or adjustable to ensure proper fit and alignment. By applying a three-point pressure system through a specialized hinge and strapping system, unloader braces create a dynamic force that shifts the load away from the affected knee compartment. This helps realign the joint, reducing the pressure on the damaged surfaces during movement, which reduces pain while promoting natural movement patterns. 

Xrays of an osteoarthritic knee with and without an unloader brace

Conditions that can be treated with unloader knee braces

Unloader knee braces are designed to provide relief for individuals suffering from conditions such as knee osteoarthritis and meniscus tears. In the case of knee osteoarthritis, these braces help alleviate pain and discomfort by redistributing the load away from the damaged cartilage and bone surfaces, thus reducing friction and inflammation within the joint. For those with meniscus tears, unloader braces offer support and stability while minimizing stress on the injured tissue, allowing for improved healing and function.

Close of up an xray of someone with osteoarthritis of the knee wearing an unloader brace to offload the knee joint

The benefits of using unloader knee braces

1. Pain Relief

By reducing pressure on the affected area, unloader braces decrease the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis and meniscus tears, allowing individuals to engage in daily activities more comfortably.

2. Improved Functionality

Unloading knee braces enhance joint function and mobility, enabling users to move more freely and perform activities previously restricted by knee pain. Individuals with a meniscus tear or osteoarthritis often change their movement patterns to avoid discomfort. By offloading the knee joint properly, these braces help promote their regular gait.

3. Complimentary Support

Unloader knee braces can enhance the effectiveness of other treatment methods, such as physical therapy or medication. By providing support and stability to the knee joint, these braces can help individuals engage in therapeutic exercises and activities that aid their recovery.

4. Delayed Surgery

For some individuals, unloader braces can delay the need for surgical intervention by providing effective symptomatic relief and slowing down the progression of knee degeneration.

Choosing the right unloader knee brace

When choosing an unloader knee brace, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional who can assess your specific condition and prescribe the most suitable brace for your needs. This prescription will also be helpful if you are seeking reimbursement through your extended medical plan, as prescriptions are often required.

The type and severity of your knee condition will play a significant role in determining the right brace for you, including the level of support required to help you move more comfortably. We offer both off-the-shelf and custom knee brace options by the leading orthopaedic bracing companies including Ossur, Donjoy and Breg. 


Off-the-shelf and custom unloader knee braces are options for individuals with knee osteoarthritis and meniscus tears. Off-the-shelf braces are pre-made and come in standard sizes, providing a cost-effective and readily available option for those with mild to moderate symptoms. While they may not offer the same level of customization as custom braces, they still provide essential support and offloading capabilities. On the other hand, custom unloader braces are meticulously crafted to fit the unique contours of your knee, ensuring optimal comfort and effectiveness. Custom braces are ideal for individuals with significant knee conditions or requiring precise adjustments to address specific biomechanical issues. 

Movement Specialist explaining knee anatomy to show how an unloader knee brace works

Our Movement Specialists have a background in kinesiology, ensuring that you receive expert advice and a personalized fit when finding you the right unloader knee brace for your diagnosis. We understand that every individual is unique, so we consider factors such as your body shape, lifestyle, and specific support requirements. Our goal is to provide you with a tailored solution that relieves pain, enhances stability, and promotes greater mobility. With our careful assessment and fitting process, you can rest assured that your brace will be comfortable to wear, allowing you to move confidently and easily.


Whether facilitating everyday movements or enabling participation in sports and leisure activities, unloader braces can help you regain control over your meniscus or osteoarthritis pain! 


Please make an appointment with one of our Movement Specialists to be measured and fit for your osteoarthritis bracing solution.

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