Almost everyone who experiences knee pain has considered using a supportive brace or compression sleeve to help alleviate their symptoms. If you visit your local Walgreens or Boots there are often rows of orthopaedic supports for the knees.
The question of course is do these knee braces help with Osgood Schlatters?
(If you want to know about kinesiology tape, read our article Using KT tape for Osgood Schlatters Disease.)
Benefits of knee braces, straps and sleeves for Osgood Schlatter disease
If you have been diagnosed with Osgood Schlatters, it is likely there have been times when a knee brace seems like something that can help. So do knee braces have benefits if you have OSD?
Braces can definitely be useful. They are pretty good at helping calm down your sensation of pain in the knee, as well as provide a feeling of confidence and support.
Many people experience a pleasant tactile sensation when using a knee brace or sleeve that can help reduce pain acutely while they recover from Osgood Schlatters. Braces don’t really do anything specific to help with the causes of Osgood Schlatter pain, but they can feel nice.
It is not really clear why knee braces have this pain reducing impact. Quite possibly the effect is a placebo, but placebos are actually powerful and can be extremely effective in treating pain.
A benefit of knee sleeves and pads (rather than braces) is they can provide protection for the sensitive area of the knee from knocks and bangs. If you have a pronounced “Osgood lump” below the knee cap it can often feel like a magnet for running into things! Having the layer of padding around the knee is a great idea especially when playing sport.
Downsides of using knee braces and sleeves for Osgood Schlatters
Unfortunately many people mis-use knee braces and sleeves when they have Osgood Schlatters.
Using a knee brace or compression sleeve as a “band-aid” and pushing through the pain will likely make your Osgood Schlatters worse. Trying to hide or mask your pain can actually slow the recovery and even make your knee pain worse in the long run.
What is really important for treating OSD is to tackle the root cause of your knee pain. This is done by gaining back the strength and mobility needed to support the knee while learning good movement mechanics so you can be truly pain-free in the long-term. Many people use a brace as a way of trying to ignore their pain, but inevitably without making bigger changes to your strength, mobility, and tendon health, the pain will come back worse than ever.
A better approach is to use a knee brace, sleeve, or strap for occasional comfort and support, while also making sure to address the root cause by following sensible training plan like our online seven week Osgood Schlatters treatment program.
Can you use knee braces while treating Osgood Schlatters?
If you are following a plan to treat Osgood Schlatters, is it bad to use a knee brace or sleeve?
It depends how much you rely on the brace or sleeve. The goal in a sensible treatment program is to gradually build your strength and function while managing the load through the knee. Part of this plan requires you to be sensitive to changes in your knee pain as an indicator of progression. Any significant increase in pain is a good indicator that you may be rushing through the steps required to treat Osgood Schlatters.
During our online Osgood Schlatters Treatment Program we recommend people use a sleeve or brace if it feels good for them with confidence to gradually increase their sports load. In fact our program does not require you to stop playing sport, so a sleeve or knee pads can be helpful while pain is still present and to help minimise the risk of hard knocks.
We seem to find that knee pads and sleeves are better than braces (and tape). This link takes you to our favourite knee sleeve/pad product that can be bought on Amazon. If you have not had luck with padding and would like to try the brace option, this is our favourite product in that space.
It may be that using a knee brace or sleeve has no real impact on your sensation of pain or comfort, in which case you do not need to be using it!