Effect of soft braces on pain and physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis: systematic review

The objective of this study was to systematically review and synthesize the effect of soft braces on pain, and self-reported and performance-based physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

The following electronic databases were searched from inception to April 20, 2016: The Cochrane Central Registry for Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, SportDiscuss, Web of Science and PEDro. Randomized controlled trials (RCT) and non-randomized controlled trials (non-RCTs), such as controlled clinical trials, crossover studies and case-control studies were included. Two reviewers independently screened articles and determined inclusion through predefined criteria.

11 studies were identified, including six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and five non-RCTs. The methodological quality of included RCTs was low. There was a moderate improvement in pain (SMD 0.52, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.89; P=0.007; 284 participants) in favor of wearing a brace compared to not wearing a brace for the immediate, within-group comparison. There was a moderate improvement in pain (SMD 0.61, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.89; P<0.001; 206 participants) and small to moderate improvement in self-reported physical function (SMD 0.39, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.67; P=0.006; 206 participants) in favor of patients receiving soft brace versus standard care for the prolonged effect, between-group comparison.

Currently available evidence indicates that soft braces have moderate effects on pain and small to moderate effects on self-reported physical function in knee osteoarthritis. These findings highlight the importance of soft braces as a technique to improve pain and physical function in both, short and long-term. Further, high quality studies are warranted to improve confidence in the findings.

Fat Pad Syndrome Online Course

This course with Claire Robertson discusses the different roles of the fat pad and gives you practical techniques for accurate diagnosis and proper management for conditions relating to this structure.