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Tagged: injury care

What are the Key Differences Between Sleeve and Wraparound Knee Braces?

If you look around any athletic training room or physical therapy office, you’re likely to find a knee brace or two lying around. They are incredibly useful in cases of knee sprains, instability, or injury. Knee injury prevention, as well as recovery, can be assisted with the use of a brace, but how are you to know which style brace is best?
Two different styles of knee braces you’re likely to find are sleeves and wraparound. They are not created equal, and they serve different roles, depending on the injury, patient age, activity level or sport, and condition of the knee-joint. Find out what the key differences are between these two styles, and you’ll be better equipped to reach for the right brace for yourself.

Sleeve Knee Braces

McDavid 429 Hinged Knee Brace is a Sleeve Style Brace

The McDavid 429 Hinged Knee Brace is a Sleeve Style Brace

Sleeve style braces are probably the most common type of knee brace. Sleeves pull onto the leg over the foot and fit snugly around the knee-joint when pulled up into place. Many sleeves have built-in pull-tabs to help pull the brace up into place. Knee sleeves may provide patellar support, ligament stability, warmth, compression, or assist the functioning of the joint. Many of these sleeves are neoprene fabric that creates a tight compression around the joint. These types of sleeves create warmth and the compression helps to reduce swelling. Newer designs now use moisture-wicking materials and hypoallergenic materials for those allergic to neoprene or wanting a ‘cooler’ option. Some knee sleeves have integrated hinges into the sleeve to add stability during sports or daily life activities. Hinged knee sleeves help keep everything stable and protect the cartilage and ligaments within the knee. Other knee sleeve options may have buttresses or straps built into the sleeve that helps pull the knee cap (patella) into proper alignment or reduce the risk of subluxation and dislocation.

Sleeve style braces are often used for knee injury prevention or in the later stages of rehabilitation. In many different activities such as basketball, football, running, or soccer, the knee-joint can be put under tremendous stress from contact or repetitive movements. A compression sleeve can aid in supporting the joint and assist it to move in a more natural and less painful fashion. Your doctor or therapist may recommend wearing it during physical activity or throughout the day as it doesn’t reduce normal motion but rather supports it.
A hinged knee sleeve can also be incredibly useful when returning to sport from an injury or surgery to aid and protect the movement and recovery of the knee joints and its ligaments. Hinged knee braces may be used to help create stability and protect the cartilage or LCL, MCL, ACL, or PCL ligaments of the knee. Often, athletes such as football players wear hinged knee braces and sleeves to prevent damage from contact or twists that may stress and injure the knee during play.

Sleeve style braces may not be the best choice for patients immediately after surgery due to the difficulty of pulling on over swelling, stitches, surgical wrappings and gauze. We often also do not recommend sleeves for elderly users as they can be quite difficult to pull on if limited motion or strength exists, even with the pull tabs included on the side of the brace.

DonJoy Drytex Wraparound Hinged Knee Brace

DonJoy Drytex Wraparound Hinged Knee Brace

Wraparound Knee Braces

Like sleeve style braces, a wraparound knee brace can also be used to provide support for the knee-joint and related structures. They are easily applied, so it’s perfect for those with reduced mobility such as the elderly or those with a recent injury or surgery who may have trouble applying a sleeve style brace. Wraparound braces usually open up and wrap around the knee to be applied. Velcro or straps allow the brace to be quickly adjusted, closed, and secured in place. These features allow adjustments to be made while wearing and the brace to be applied with care if knee swelling or wounds exist.

Wraparound braces are a great option for those needing a quick re-adjustment or removal once applied. These braces allow the brace to be removed without first removing footwear such as cleats or skates. A doctor or a physical therapist may also recommend this style brace for patients that are non-athletes and just need a brace for daily activities. Because of the Velcro application and the occasional tendency for this brace to shift slightly or come undone we usually do not recommend most wraparound braces for contact and competitive athletics.
Many wraparound braces include side metal hinges or spiral stays for added support to the knee ligaments and cartilage. Hinges may be free moving within a normal range of motion or may contain dials or adjustment screws that lock the hinges and restrict some or all of the knee’s motion. Most post-surgery brace options are wraparound braces with locking hinges that can restrict knee motion and allow healing. As the patient progresses with their rehabilitation adjustments are usually made to the hinge to allow more motion, while still providing support, protection, and stability to the recovering knee.

If you need a good knee brace in either a wraparound or sleeve style, DonJoy braces are an excellent choice and just one of the many quality brands we offer. Contact Hat Trick Sports to discuss our range of braces and what would suit you best.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Tennis Elbow can be a Painful condition

Lateral Epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow is an overuse injury of the elbow.

Lateral epicondylitis is a painful condition that affects the tendons that attach to the bone on the lateral (outside) aspect of the elbow. Tendons are what attach muscles to bone.  When these tendons get irritated from repetitive wrist and arm use, they often become inflamed resulting in weakness and pain.  The most common muscle involved in lateral epicondylitis is the extensor carpi radialis brevis, which is responsible for wrist extension.  However, any forearm muscle that produces wrist extension or supination (turning the palm up) can be involved in lateral epicondylitis.  This condition is commonly referred to as “tennis elbow” because it is often seen in tennis players due to the excessive amount of wrist extension involved in backhand motions.

Although this condition is most commonly referred to as tennis elbow, lateral epicondylitis has many different causes. It is common in any sport that involves repetitively gripping an object, such as baseball, softball, racquetball, golf, javelin throwing, and fencing. It is also very common to develop this condition from non-athletic activities, such as meat-cutting, plumbing, painting, driving screws, and excessive computer mouse use.  Though this injury is traditionally seen from repetitive activities and overuse, it is also possible to develop lateral epicondylitis after a direct blow to the outside of the elbow, causing swelling and eventual breakdown of the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle.

The most common symptom associated with lateral epicondylitis is pain. The pain is usually isolated to the outside of the elbow, but may radiate into the forearm and wrist.  Due to this pain, it may be difficult for people to shake hands, turn a doorknob, or hold and lift everyday objects in their grasp. Initially, the treatment for lateral epicondylitis is activity modification. Understanding what motion is causing that pain, and decreasing that repetitive motion or learning the proper technique to the movement are keys.  Rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are also recommended to help alleviate pain.

Tennis Elbow Brace

The GOSTRAP Tennis Elbow Strap can be an effective treatment for lateral epicondylitis.

As part of a comprehensive treatment, a brace is also often recommended to help reduce pain.  The most effective type of brace is a counterforce brace.  Unlike the traditional one strap tennis elbow brace, a counterforce brace, such as the Comffit GOSTRAP Tennis Elbow Support, uses straps above and below the elbow to help carry the load placed on the elbow while simultaneously reducing the tension placed on that area. This brace is effective because it provides a counterforce in the opposite direction of the wrist extensors (muscles causing pain).  In addition because of its two strap design, the straps do not have to be applied very tight to provide support, so it is comfortable to wear all day and does not restrict elbow motion.  When dealing with lateral epicondylitis, a Comffit GOSTRAP Tennis Elbow Support is an affordable and effective addition to a comprehensive treatment and therapy plan.

5 Best Ankle Braces for Basketball Players

Basketball Player Wearing an Ankle Brace

Wearing an ankle brace for basketball can help prevent ankle sprains and injuries.

There has been an endless debate in the athletic community concerning what type of ankle brace is “the best” for basketball players. With the countless options available, it can be a very daunting task picking the one that is right for you. This article will examine 5 of the best ankle braces readily available to consumers, and discuss the differences in support and comfort of each.

The gold standard of ankle braces is the ASO Ankle Brace. Hundreds of schools, colleges, and professional teams use the ASO Ankle Brace worldwide.  It provides medial and lateral (side-to-side) support to the ankle, while still allowing adequate motion for athletic activities. It has a secure, lace up design that can be adjusted as often as needed to maintain support, as well as figure 8 straps that help lock the heel in place to help prevent an ankle sprain. This brace is lightweight and easily fits in any athletic shoe or cleat.  Because it does not contain any hard, plastic inserts, it is very comfortable for all day use and incredibly easy and quick to apply.  It is ideal for use after an acute ankle sprain injury to provide support during rehabilitation or for preventative use to help reduce the incidence of ankle injuries.  Whether you are recovering from an ankle sprain or trying to prevent minor ankle injuries, this is the perfect brace to choose.

For basketball players that have suffered a more severe ankle sprain or who chronically sprain (roll) their ankle, and need more support than a standard ASO ankle brace, there is the ASO Ankle Brace with Plastic Stays.  This brace has all the same qualities of support and comfort that the standard brace provides, but it also has removable medial and lateral plastic stays that can be added to the brace for additional support.  These supports are ideal for individuals who have suffered an acute ankle sprain and need additional medial and lateral support while they transition back into activity.  This brace is also ideal for individuals who chronically sprain their ankle or suffer from chronic ankle instability (CAI).  This brace is only slightly bulkier than the standard ASO brace and has more restriction of ankle motion, however it provides more support and may decrease the likelihood of an additional injury while running, cutting, or jumping in basketball.

The McDavid 199 Lightweight Ankle Brace provides similar support to the ASO Ankle Brace with Plastic Stays; however, the McDavid ankle brace has two spring steel stays that provide the medial and lateral support. These stays are a bit less rigid than the plastic ASO inserts, and provide support to the ankle while still maintaining a comfortable fit.  This brace does not have any additional straps, rather it only laces up the front and uses the spring steel stays and its two layers of poly/vinyl mesh fabric construction to provide a durable brace and the necessary medial and lateral ankle protection.  This style may be more comfortable for players who feel the additional straps are too bulky or are uncomfortable with hard plastic stays.

An ankle brace more suited for basketball players with acute or chronic multiple lateral (outside) ankle injuries is the DonJoy RocketSoc Ankle Brace.  This brace is similar in style to the ASO ankle brace in that it laces up the ankle to provide increased ankle support and compression, but differs in that it focuses its additional support on the lateral aspect of the ankle, since that is the most common area injured in an ankle sprain. It provides a supportive strap at the heel, as well as another on the lateral forefoot to prevent inversion (rolling in) of the ankle.  It is lightweight, easy to apply and adjust, and fits easily into any shoe.

The final brace recommended for basketball players is the Active Ankle T2 Ankle Brace.  This brace has two U-shaped plastic supports on the medial and lateral aspects of the ankle to reduce excessive ankle motion in those directions, while the hinged design allows for normal ankle motion in all other directions.  This brace is lightweight, fits easily into most shoes, and has EVA padding inside the brace that hugs every contour of the ankle for additional comfort. The Active Ankle T2 is great for individuals who have suffered multiple ankle sprains and can help prevent further injury to the ankle by reducing the unnatural motion that causes ankle sprains.  It has an open front design that does not encompass the entire ankle, so it can be more comfortable for athletic activity.  The T2 Ankle brace is very popular among jumping sport athletes such as basketball and volleyball players.

Picking the right ankle brace to fit your individual basketball, or athletic needs can be very difficult. It is important when choosing the right one to understand the reason you need an ankle brace and the differences in support and function various braces provide. Any of these five braces discussed will provide great support to the ankle in helping prevent or recover from an ankle injury, it is just a matter of finding the one that is right for you.

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