An unloader brace is a knee brace that subtly alters the alignment of the knee as weight is taken to reduce the forces going through a vulnerable part of the knee.

iJoint space narrowing in the knee Unloader brace for knee arthritis

It is important to choose the correct brace (left or right, unloading medial or lateral compartment), and advice should be sought from your physiotherapist orthotist.

An absent meniscus shock absorber may lead to narrowing of the joint space on one side, with the bones absorbing increased pressure - eventually becoming arthritic.

When properly fitted, this brace 'unloads' the vulnerable area by adjusting the forces through the knee so that more force is directed to the 'good' side.



Who benefits from an unloader brace?

The Unloader Brace is designed specifically for active people who have arthritic damage on just one side of the joint. The idea is to reduce the forces through the joint cartilage of one side of the knee when cartilage damage is still restricted to just one half of the joint.

Unloaders are often used to give symptomatic relief to patients whose knee osteoarthritis is not severe enough to warrant a total knee replacement, or to patients who are waiting for a knee replacement, either a total or a partial one. They are also used to 'unload' one side of the knee after cartilage repair surgery.

unloading brace

Orthotics and aids for knee arthritis

A overview of the simple devices that can make life easier if you have knee arthritis.

An 'interpretation' of a 2017 published medical paper about the cost-efficiency of unloader braces compared to surgical solutions for unicompartmental knee arthritis.

Video testimonials from patients trying an unloader brace for the first time.



An Update on Unloading Knee Braces in the Treatment of Unicompartmental Knee Osteoarthritis from the Last 10 Years: A Literature Review. Mistry DA, Amit Chandratreya A and Lee PYF. Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ). Surg J (N Y). 2018 Jul; 4(3): e110–e118.

Efficacy of Unloader Bracing in Reducing Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis. Ostrander RV, Leddon CE, Hackel JG, O'Grady CP, Roth CA. Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ). 2016 Jul-Aug;45(5):306-11.

Effects of an unloader knee brace on knee-related symptoms and function in people with post-traumatic knee osteoarthritis after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.. Hart HF, Crossley KM, Ackland DC, Cowan SM, Collins NJ. Knee. 2016 Jan;23(1):85-90. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2015.05.006.


Knee Forum discussion about the unloader brace.

See also -

Knee arthritis interventions when you are too young for a total knee replacement - ebook