Effectiveness of Valgus Offloading Knee Braces in the Treatment of Medial Compartment Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review
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CONTEXT:: Knee osteoarthritis affects 9.3 million adults over age 45 years in the United States. There is significant disability associated with this condition. Given the potential complications and the significant cost to the health care system with the dramatic increase in total knee arthroplasties performed for this condition, assessment of the efficacy of nonoperative modalities, such as offloading knee braces, is essential as part of optimizing nonoperative treatment for this condition. OBJECTIVE:: To determine the effectiveness of valgus offloader braces in improving clinical outcomes for patients with medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. DATA SOURCES:: Three databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, and EMBASE) were searched from database inception through July 28, 2017. STUDY SELECTION:: Studies reporting outcomes of valgus offloader knee braces in the treatment of medial compartment knee osteoarthritis were included. STUDY DESIGN:: Systematic review. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:: Level 4. DATA EXTRACTION:: Data pertaining to demographics, descriptive statistics, and clinical outcomes were extracted from the included studies. The methodological quality of included studies was evaluated. RESULTS:: A total of 31 studies were included, with a total of 619 patients. The majority of studies reported improved pain outcomes using valgus offloader braces. However, variable results were reported as to whether valgus offloader braces significantly improved functional outcomes and stiffness. Offloader bracing was more effective at reducing pain when compared with neutral braces or neoprene sleeves. CONCLUSION:: Valgus offloader bracing is an effective treatment for improving pain secondary to medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. The literature remains unclear on the effectiveness of valgus offloader braces with regard to functional outcomes and stiffness. Larger prospective randomized trials with consistent outcome assessment tools and consideration of patient compliance would be beneficial to more accurately determine treatment effects of valgus offloader bracing.
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