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What are the Different Types of Knee Bandages?

By U. Ahern
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Knee bandages can be used for short-term needs, such as recuperation from an injury, or for long-term needs due to illness or disability. Prevention and protection from injury is a frequent use as well. The type of knee bandage used depends on the reason for use. Materials used for knee bandages vary greatly. Simple elastic compression wraps, neoprene sleeves, and neoprene wraps with stabilizer bars are some of the most common knee bandages. Whether purchased at a local store or prescribed by a physician, it is important that the bandage fits properly.

The ACE™ all-cotton, elastic bandage, invented in 1914, is widely used for temporary knee support. It applies localized compression and stabilizes an injured knee. Typically, the first bandage used on an injured knee, it can be applied without possible harmful movement to the knee. It is wrapped around the leg and fastened with clips.

Wrapping begins 2 inches (about 5 cm) above the knee and finishes approximately the same distance below the knee. In the case of a serious knee injury, a splint may be added to immobilize the knee until it is examined by a doctor. Fit should be snug and knee bandages should be removed overnight.

Neoprene sleeves are effective choices for long term support, as well as injury prevention. A sleeve pulls over the foot and slides into place around the knee. Some come with an opening around the kneecap. This opening may be reinforced to provide support for the patella. The fit should be snug, but not overly tight.

Neoprene retains heat while providing moderate compression and support. A popular choice of cold weather athletes, it can protect from injuries. For other sports that include rapid running and turning, such as soccer and basketball, neoprene knee bandages are effective protection as well.

Arthritis sufferers may also find support and assistance from neoprene knee bandages. Providing stability and support to the knee itself, the neoprene sleeve supplies compression and warmth for mild or moderate arthritis. Neoprene sleeves or wraps with Velcro® closures can easily be found at a local drugstore.

More structured knee bandages and braces typically require a doctor’s visit and prescription. Knee braces constructed of foam with rigid side plates are used during recovery from serious injury or surgery. The side braces can include a locking mechanism that limits knee flexion and keeps it from bending too far. Individuals awaiting knee surgery may also use this type of brace in conjunction with crutches. As with any type of knee bandage, it is important to contact a physician in case of swelling or discomfort.

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Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On May 19, 2014

There are also regular, sticky bandages made specifically for knees. Since the knee has a unique structure and bends, regular bandages do not fit well. They usually fall off or crease and prevent movement. So some bandage manufacturers have made bandages with a unique shape to suit the knee area. The same type of bandages are also used for the elbows.

I bought a box of knee bandages after seeing my boys come home with lots of scrapes on their knees from playing and riding the bicycle. I bought the cushion type so that the bandage also serves as protection in case they fall again.

By SarahGen — On May 19, 2014

@fif-- Yes, long stretch bandages, short stretch bandages, knee braces, knee sleeves and tubular bandages are all included in this category. Of course, they fulfill different purposes, so a doctor should determine which is best for which situation.

I use long stretch bandages most often for knee support, but I have also worn a knee sleeve before. Knee sleeves and braces definitely provide more support but can also limit activity a little more than stretch bandages. As for tubular bandages, these are usually used as a covering on top of wounds but can help with arthritis and other conditions that cause inflammation because they apply some pressure.

By fify — On May 18, 2014

I was wondering what a knee bandage is exactly since stretch roll bandages can be used anywhere on the body including the knee. I didn't realize that braces and other support bandages are included in this category.

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