A knee compression sleeve applies therapeutic compression to the knee joint to promote increased blood flow and help treat a wide variety of possible injuries.
Neoprene based knee compression sleeves are also effective at retaining the body’s natural warmth. This means that they are useful for loosening up cold and stiff ligaments and tendons in and around the knee.
The risk of experiencing sprains and/or strains is strongly correlated with commencing activity with cold and stiff muscles, tendons and ligaments. So, by helping to warm the soft tissues of the knee, compression sleeves reduce the risk of sprain and strain injuries.
Why Do Knee Compression Sleeves Work?
The compression supplied by these sleeves also helps to reduce the duration of delayed onset muscle soreness. The benefit of this is the fact that an athlete is then able to train more frequently and for longer and harder sessions, with shorter recovery periods in between.
A compression sleeve designed for the knee will also improve proprioception, which is the body’s innate ability to sense the relative positions of its different parts.
Proprioception also helps the brain to sense when there is an increased risk of injury as a result of these relative positions and to take action to reduce the risk.
As a result, a knee compression sleeve is an effective accessory for helping to prevent injury.
In addition to reducing the risk of injury, proprioception helps the body to instinctively perform complex movements in a more efficient way. As a result, sports performance and technique are improved.
Having stated the benefits of knee compression sleeves in the above scenarios, it should be pointed out that they are unlikely to be effective in treating other knee injuries such as meniscus tears. For those types of injuries, a more conventional hinged knee brace or knee stabilizer is needed. They will provide extra support to injured knee ligaments & other soft tissues.
Knee compression sleeves therefore offer a wide range of benefits to physically active individuals as well as to serious athletes.
In the remainder of this text, we provide suggested answers to a number of popular questions pertaining to these sleeves. We hope that our suggested responses will help the reader gain the most benefit from his choice of knee compression sleeve.
What Are Cold Compression Knee Sleeves?
Cold compression knee sleeves offer the combined benefits of cold therapy and compression in a single unit.
Cold therapy temporarily reduces nerve activity to reduce perceived pain from injuries. It also causes the blood vessels to constrict and thus reduces blood flow – a useful feature in the first 24-48 hours after receiving an acute injury. Cold therapy is also effective for reducing any swelling that may be present.
As mentioned above, compression is a useful mechanism for improving blood circulation. Once the first 24-48 hours after injury have passed, pain and swelling will likely have been controlled by the cold therapy aspect of the sleeve. This means that the compression level can be increased to bring freshly oxygenated blood, with other nutrients, to the injury site to promote healing.
What To Look For In The Best Knee Compression Sleeves
The best knee compression sleeves are usually made from a latex free material and may also be hypoallergenic. These features ensure long term user comfort with no risk of adverse medical reactions.
Another feature offered by many of the high quality sleeves is the ability to “wick” moisture away from the skin and allow it to migrate through the sleeve material. Once on the outside of the material, it can then evaporate, leaving the wearer’s skin dry and comfortable underneath the sleeve.
If you are looking for a sleeve that will provide natural warmth to your knee joint to reduce the risk of sprains and strains, we suggest that the best sleeve would be one with a neoprene construction. Neoprene has the ability to retain the body’s natural warmth and use it to keep the knee ligaments and other tissues warm and supple.
Using A Knee Compression Sleeve For Osteoarthritis
The study was conducted to examine the efficacy of elastic knee sleeves on both the pain being experienced and the functional capacity of individuals suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
Seventy four (74) knee osteoarthritis patients were asked to perform various tests (8MW, TUG and SCPT) to measure knee function. The participants also underwent a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) test to measure the level of knee pain. The tests were performed with each patient not wearing and wearing elastic compression knee sleeves .
To prevent any subjective influence of the sight of a knee sleeve on the patients’ assessment of knee function and pain level, patients wore a cover over the knee to hide the appearance of the sleeve. The cover was worn whether or not the patient was actually wearing the sleeve under it.
In addition, the individual assessing the knee function and pain levels was unaware of whether the patient he or she was assessing was actually wearing a knee sleeve.
Further the sequence of wearing/not wearing the knee compression sleeve was randomized for each patient.
This meant that the study was a randomized, double blind investigation, widely regarded as one of the most credible ways to measure the effectiveness of medical devices.
A highly significant difference in pain level (as measured using the VAS test) between wearing and not wearing the knee compression sleeve was revealed by the study. The test was significant at the 0.1% level, which means that there was a probability of less than 1 in 1000 that the observed results could have been produced with no actual underlying difference in knee pain levels.
When the impact of the compression knee sleeve on knee function was measured, the investigators found significant differences in knee function as performed using both the 8MW and TUG tests. The differences shown were significant at the 5% level.
The third test of knee function (SCPT) did not show a significant difference in knee function. There was a 13.39% probability that the differences observed could be reproduced despite there being no actual difference in underlying knee function.
Based on these results, the investigators concluded that elastic compression knee sleeves were an effective resource for treatment of knee osteoarthritis.
For How Long Should A Knee Compression Sleeve Be Worn?
This is one of the questions frequently asked by those about to start wearing a knee compression sleeve. The final answer should come from the medical advice given by the patient’s doctor.
Having said this, however, our view is that knee sleeves can continue providing therapeutic benefits for as long as they are worn. If they are worn for warmth and to prevent/reduce knee stiffness, they will continue doing so whenever they are worn. Unless the knee stiffness condition is temporary, this will continue to be the case for an indefinite period.
Similar arguments would apply to knee compression sleeves worn for delayed onset muscle soreness or increased proprioception.
Can I Sleep With A Knee Compression Sleeve On?
In general, these sleeves provide their benefits when one is engaged in a physically demanding, athletic or sporting activity of some kind. In bed, they will probably interfere with the patient’s sleep and do more harm than good.
As a result, unless otherwise advised by a physician, our suggestion would be that the sleeve should not be worn while sleeping.