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Author Topic: anyone experienced with unloader brace?  (Read 9187 times)

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Offline nursedeb

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anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« on: May 13, 2010, 02:30:41 AM »
Hi,
Just wondering if anyone has experience with unloader brace? I had microfracture/chondroplasty 4 wks ago. Two more weeks of non wt brg to go and then doc says I will need to wear one of these braces (for up to a year). Can't wait for that. :) Just wondered will it fit under clothes. I normally wear khaki pants to work, will I be able to wear it underneath them or do I need bigger pants? Does the brace always have to be placed directly against the skin? Also, has anyone else ever had to wear one of these braces after a microfracture surgery?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Debbie

Offline Snowy

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 05:47:22 AM »
I've been wearing unloader braces on both knees for four years following previous injuries (not surgery), although I'm now into a whole new phase of bracing after rupturing my left ACL in March. The unloader braces I wore were GII Trainers, which are fairly bulky. I now have an Ossur Paradigm ACL brace, which is slightly more visible but actually more lightweight and comfortable to wear.

My experience: I couldn't fit the braces under suit pants, but they were fine under slightly looser pants of the kind I wear in the summer so I'm guessing they'd be no problem under khakis. They were slightly visible, but I think I was far more conscious of that than anyone else; most people didn't notice till someone commented or I pointed it out. I wore them against the skin except when I was skiing, in which case I wore them over Opedix unloader leggings. They were actually a bit more comfortable over leggings, and I never had any problems with them slipping provided I did them up right.

I found the braces pretty uncomfortable initially, but within a couple of weeks I'd pretty much stopped noticing them. My Paradigm, which is definitely more visible than the Trainers, was even less of an issue; I've felt totally comfortable in it from the start. I've never really cared much about people noticing it;  I live in a very outdoorsy, active city, so there are loads of folk out here who run and play sports in braces. I try to think of it as a mark of an active lifestyle. :)
Mar 11: R Biceps femoris tear (skiing)
Jul 10: ACLr (hamstring autograft)
Mar 10: L ACL rupture (skiing)
Feb 06: L partial ACL tear (kickboxing)
Dec 03: R bone edema (motorbike)
Jan 01: R patellar chip (motorbike)
May 93: R ACL sprain (hockey)
Ongoing: bilateral PFS and OA

Offline nursedeb

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 01:59:32 AM »
Thank you so much for all the information. So, does your brace fit under jeans? Will you be wearing the braces for the rest of your life? Im hoping mine is just temporary, but if the brace takes the pain away then I will have no choice but to wear it.
Thanks,
Debbie

Offline Snowy

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2010, 03:33:59 AM »
The GIIs fit under jeans as long as they weren't too tight, but the Paradigm only fits under stretchy or loose pants. It's an ACL brace rather than a straight unloader, though, so I'm guessing you'll be in something more like the GIIs. Has your doc mentioned any specific brands or models of brace?

At this point I don't really know what the long-term prospects are for my brace use, because I haven't had my ACL reconstruction yet and a lot will depend on how I recover from the surgery. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I did have to use a brace for the rest of my life, although obviously I'd prefer it if I didn't; it really is amazing how little you notice them once you're used to wearing them.

Good luck! I'll be interested to hear what kind of brace you get and how you find it. Don't be disconcerted if it feels really clunky initially, and you find yourself very conscious of it at first; it does take a bit of time to get used to wearing one.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 05:26:30 AM by Snowy »
Mar 11: R Biceps femoris tear (skiing)
Jul 10: ACLr (hamstring autograft)
Mar 10: L ACL rupture (skiing)
Feb 06: L partial ACL tear (kickboxing)
Dec 03: R bone edema (motorbike)
Jan 01: R patellar chip (motorbike)
May 93: R ACL sprain (hockey)
Ongoing: bilateral PFS and OA

Offline Snowy

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2010, 05:34:15 AM »
Oh - it's probably worth mentioning as well that my level of use varied depending on how my knees were doing overall. After the initial injury, I wore a brace pretty much full-time on my left leg for quite a while. The right leg was an older injury that flared up from time to time, so I wore a brace on that leg for all activities except swimming. When either knee went through a painful phase, I'd go back to wearing the braces full-time. Last winter I bought myself a pair of Opedix leggings and had actually managed to substitute those for the braces when the knees were just generally sore and for cycling, though they didn't provide sufficient support for more strenuous activities like skiing. I'm sure microfracture recovery has its own protocol, but the take home message is that there are different options available to you in the longer term, depending on how your knees are doing.
Mar 11: R Biceps femoris tear (skiing)
Jul 10: ACLr (hamstring autograft)
Mar 10: L ACL rupture (skiing)
Feb 06: L partial ACL tear (kickboxing)
Dec 03: R bone edema (motorbike)
Jan 01: R patellar chip (motorbike)
May 93: R ACL sprain (hockey)
Ongoing: bilateral PFS and OA

Offline dm

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2010, 12:28:48 AM »
To be effective, the unloaders have to be worn against skin. Otherwise they slip. G2 unloaders are a single upright design with thigh and shin shell supports, Townsend braces have thigh/shin shells with dual uprights. Donjoy braces are dual upright designs but lack the support of the thigh/shin shells, it's more of a band/strap design, which I felt slipped more than the shell design. I've had the donjoy oadjuster and the G2 unloader select, and prefer the G2 for extended daily use. You can wear pants over any of them, but you have to go up a couple sizes to find pants that fit. Simplest solution is to buy men's khakis or dockers in a couple different colors, the straightleg cut is easier to contend with with the brace. You can also more easily tailor them if you can sew a little, if you want to make the non-braced side fit more closely.

Just a suggestion.
multiple arthroscopies 2/00,3/01,6/01,1/03, 12/07,10/10. chondromalacia, severe medial joint space narrowing following 3 partial menisectomies, chronic pain problems, kneecap problems, OCD lesion, failed mfx.

Offline k in Jax

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 02:24:47 PM »
Just suggested to me that I try an unloader for my right medial meniscus, and I think I probably am a good candidate.  Can anyone give me a price range?  The doctor's office only said "it's expensive", and as I don't have insurance, I have no idea what that means.  Any ideas or suggestions?

Offline bracebaz

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2011, 11:29:28 AM »
I've been wearing a medial unloader for nearly a month now, it took me a couple of weeks to get used to it @ first and I hardly notice it now.
The brace(bledsoe medial rlf) is a lot bigger than my other braces but i'm finding it's one of the most comfy i've used,
And the difference in pain levels was immediate when I was fitted.
It is noticeable under jeans and pants but you can still get them on,
I'm wearing shorts whilst it's summer and you do get a lot of comments by people who don't know you.
I've used undersleeves with all my other braces but not with this one as yet.
I've been using braces for 12 years on and off now, mostly on for the last 5 years and if I have to use them for the rest of my life then so be it.
Let us know how you get on with what brace you get.
Good luck bazil
,lcl,mcl,pcl tears 2001
braced for 2yrs no surgery.
jan 07 disloction pcl grade 2, lcl beyond repair.
 2011 diagnosed medial OA
Brace user up to 18 hrs a day
Holding off PKR

Offline jessikasgrammy

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2011, 03:05:36 AM »
Tomorrow will be one week with my Breg Fusion Lateral OA brace.  I am still having a "love-hate" relationship with it!  My first knee surgery was over 41 years ago on my left knee - medial meniscus tear.  Two years later, I tore the lateral meniscus and had surgery to remove 90% of the meniscus.  In February of this year, my knee took a definite nose dive overnight.  I hadn't done anything different, the knee just gave up!  I had x-rays, indicating moderate OA in the lateral side.  OS gave a cortizone shot, which did nothing.  Three weeks later, the Physician's Assistant prescribed an oral round of steroids and an MRI.  MRI showed older tear in ACL and meniscus tear on medial side.  The end of April, I had arthroscopic surgery to remove torn medial meniscus and clean out of the ground up meniscus on the lateral side.  Did four weeks of PT, another cortizone shot (which, again, did nothing).  I have contnued PT at home daily.  The bone on bone pain on the lateral side was unbearable so OS prescribed Unloader brace and Supartz shots.  I got the custom fit brace last Monday and started the shots on Wednesday.  I have four more shots scheduled.  I know I will need a TKR in the future but want to hold it off for a few more years. 

As for the uloader brace, the first 2-3 days were terrible.  It was uncomfortable but did take away the bone on bone pain.  Unfortunately, the pad on the lateral side of my knee rests on scar tissue from the second surgery.  I found that making an extra pad out of cotton bandage helped tremendously.  I am up to wearing the brace 8-10 hours a day.  I have not used the undersleeve yet due to the heat here in Georgia!!  I have had no problems with the brace slipping, as I expected.  I am 5'1" and weigh 110.  My legs aren't exactlly big & muscular!  If I need to wear this brace daily, I will.  Yes, it is ugly but I will not be entering any beauty contests!  There is no way it will fit under slacks.

As for the Supartz shots, the first 2 days my knee ached really bad but also felt cold!  Now, four days after the first shot, I can already tell it is helping.  The pain in the medial side is much better.  I don't exactly look forward to four more shots in my knee, but if it helps, I'm all for it!!  I hope I have answered some questions for you. 


Offline dm

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Re: anyone experienced with unloader brace?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2011, 03:48:34 AM »
To reply to K in Jax, the off the shelf unloaders are the cheapest, Ossur has one in their G2 lineup, and you're looking at around 5-700 for that. Online is probably gonna be cheaper than a brace specialist, but you'll need to bite the cost for one visit to fit it, for sure. They won't like you having bought one online, but if you can quote something like the G2 Spirit off the shelf unloader at x price from a reputable site, (there are many but kneeshop is an example, can't advocate you pick a particular one of course)  perhaps you can find a local place that would work with you for the same brace price as online, since you're paying cash, then you'd pay for it to be fit properly.

If you're not an unusual anatomic shape, such as having a really big thigh and smaller calf, for example, an off the shelf brace should be an easy fit for you, since custom isn't an option - mine was 2500 without insurance (which paid 1400 with their 'discount')

multiple arthroscopies 2/00,3/01,6/01,1/03, 12/07,10/10. chondromalacia, severe medial joint space narrowing following 3 partial menisectomies, chronic pain problems, kneecap problems, OCD lesion, failed mfx.















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