An unloader knee brace will help to relieve the pain of knee osteoarthritis. It does this by shifting the point of contact between the thigh and shin bones away from areas with deteriorated cartilage to an area with healthier cartilage. This means that there will be less direct contact between the two bones, and therefore less pain.
Unloader knee braces may shift the contact point between the two bones from the medial to the lateral side of the knee, or vice versa. If the brace does its job properly, the rate of progress of the arthritis may be slowed to the point at which a knee replacement operation may not be necessary in the near future. In some cases, the patient may now need this painful and debilitating operation at any point in his or her lifetime.