What is the best compression sleeve available?
The best compression knee sleeve is the one that fits, stays on, is comfortable to wear, and gives you some relief from pain. There are hundreds of compression sleeves available. Finding the one that works best for you will take some trial and error. Expensive compression sleeves don’t always mean better compression sleeves.
Knee Compression Sleeves/Braces
Compression sleeves and braces are one of the most affordable and easiest means of easing the pain of an aching knee joint from arthritis or sports-related soreness. Compression sleeves have been scientifically proven to improve knee pain from strains and mild arthritic pain.
Below is a list of knee sleeves or braces that are some of the most common and most effective sleeves that I have seen over the years. I have worn most of them, and asked many patients for comments about them. Hopefully, this helps decrease your stress when searching for the right sleeve to try to ease your knee pain.
Managing knee pain associated with arthritis, sports and inflammation can be frustrating. Knee compression sleeves and certain braces perform well at this task. Knee pain due to osteoarthritis, overuse, or chronic pain from other causes can be very debilitating… but there are proven ways to manage the pain of arthritis without surgery.
One of the most common treatments that I recommend is a knee compression sleeve or a support brace. Over the years I have seen thousands of patients and spoken to them about their thoughts on the “best” knee compression sleeves. This post is a collection of the top sleeves I have seen in my office over the years.
The scientific research on knee compression sleeves is clear. Compression sleeves help minimize arthritic or achy knee pain for many people. The placebo effect of compression sleeves is probably even larger. Compression sleeves work best when combined with physical therapy treatments. Many of you will find that your knees are better able to tolerate certain activities like walking, running, tennis, and golfing when wearing a compression sleeve or a supportive brace. The compression sleeves not only provide pain relief, they usually provide an improved sense of knee stability.
Supportive Braces for Arthritic Knee Pain
1. Knit Compression Knee Sleeve
Knit fabric compression sleeves are becoming much more popular. They are cooler to wear and provide great compression. With a silicone bead along the top, and side supports that are actually incorporated into the sleeve, this style actually stays on the knee and rarely bunches up or slides down. It has a silicone pad around the kneecap which helps control your pain when the pain is in the front of the knee. Compression sleeves come in different types of material and offer a different level of support. An advantage of this sleeve is that it has a knit weave which is breathable and is not usually as warm or uncomfortable as other types of neoprene sleeves. They are a little more costly, but many find it is worth it. Learn more about this knit sleeve, the 365Warrior Compression Knee Sleeve.
Some of you with arthritis feel that your knee is unstable or loose. Some braces provide supports as well which may be useful if your knee feels unstable. The DonJoy Bionic brace is one example.
The DonJoy Drytex brace has an opening in the back of the brace. That is useful because many people do not like the brace or sleeve binding up behind their knee. The hinges on the side give more knee support when your arthritis gives you the feeling that your knee is unstable or catching.
One of the most popular compression sleeves is the Tommie Copper Recovery Knee Compression Sleeve.
After seeing many Tommie Copper sleeves in the office I decided to try one on for a while. After wearing the sleeve for a week I was surprised at how comfortable it was. The sleeve did not roll down or bind behind my knee.
Tommie Copper also has a Performance line... although a few dollars more, I found that this sleeve felt like it was more snug along the front of the knee where most people have pain from running or osteoarthritis. See the TC Performance sleeve.
For those looking for more support. I have found another very popular compression knee sleeve brand is Bauerfeind. Click to see the Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support – has a more snug and firmer more targeted compression than the Tommie Copper. Bauerfeind also uses silicone supports along the kneecap for added compression in that region. I have found that very active patients often wear these knee compression sleeves for sports, walking, or running. The patients I have spoken to prefer this sleeve to wear during sports or activities — and may switch back to the Tommie Copper brand for everyday/all day comfort.
7. Bauerfeind GenuTrain P3
Bauerfeind’s top of the line compression sleeve is the Bauerfeind GenuTrain P3 . The P3 is a compression sleeve made of a breathable mesh and the it was surprisingly comfortable to wear. The edges did not dig in and I tolerated it while running and playing soccer. The company notes that this sleeve is primarily for athletes. You will pay a premium for this premium-level sleeve.
For 15 years now I have been recommending knee compression sleeves to most of my patients with knee pain due to osteoarthritis or inflammation and pain due to running and other activities. Many are very happy with the pain relief they obtain. Perhaps even more important, many of you with arthritis of the knee occasionally feel that your knee is unstable or wobbly. Compression sleeves also seem to improve that sense of stability. No one appreciates the feeling that their knee is going to give way or feel unstable. These sleeves provide a feeling of security by improving your “proprioception”. Proprioception is the body’s way of stabilizing itself. Most people with arthritic pain or pain due to a mild knee injury have a sense that their knee is not stable. Yet, most of those people have normal ligaments. So this is not a structural problem leading to instability. When wearing a compression sleeve, most arthritic knee pain sufferers will have far fewer episodes where the knee feels like it wants to give way.
There is no one knee sleeve which is right for everyone. I guess that’s why many of us have more than one in our closets. When purchasing a sleeve, do not choose one which is tight. That’s actually not how a compression sleeve works. If the sleeve is too tight you will not tolerate wearing it. If you are wearing a compression sleeve for osteoarthritis pain, it is generally advisable to do this in combination with a natural anti-inflammatory.
When you are running low on options and your knee pain persists despite many other remedies, a compression sleeve might be the next best thing to try.
I cannot guarantee that all of you will have relief or protection with these compression sleeves or braces. Many of our patients report that they are very satisfied with the relief. Some report that they are not.