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Sports Medicine

ACL Injury

02/15/2011

Question:

Two months ago I injured my knee while playing soccer, the doctor told me that I have injured my meniscus along with a grade 1 ACL tear, he told me I donot require any surgery but I still have to wait for a month before I can start playing soccer again, right now I use a hinged knee brace for support & when I start playing again the doctor has told me to wear the same brace while playing.....what is the difference between a hinged knee brace & a functional knee brace? Do any of them actually protect the ligaments from further injuries?Should I opt for surgery?.....I am a very active 22 year old male & I intend to continue playing soccer for my club....

Answer:

Functional knee braces have hinges, but not all hinged knee braces are "functional" knee braces. A functional knee brace is designed and intended to facilitate a person's function by attempting to compensate for knee instability due to ligamentous insufficiency/injury, particularly ACL injury.

Although a knee brace may theoretically reduce the chance of initial or further ligament injury, this is highly dependent on the design and fit of a knee brace specific to the person wearing it, and the activities performed.

More important is the fact that a knee brace may give a false sense of security, thereby increasing the risk of injury or re-injury, and the degree to which motions are restricted by a brace in the lab do not carry over to physiologic or "real-life" demands for knee stability.

Most important is the quality and adequacy of the rehabilitation process which needs to address strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, agility, and technique. Whether or not you should proceed with knee surgery is a decision which must be made on the basis of a detailed discussion regarding the pros and cons of surgery with your orthopedist.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University