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Am Fam Physician. 2018 Nov 15;98(10):570-576.

Braces and Splints for Common Musculoskeletal Conditions.

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West Virginia University School of Medicine-Eastern Campus, Harpers Ferry, WV, USA.


Braces and splints can immobilize and protect joints, reduce pain, decrease swelling, and facilitate healing of acute injuries. They are also used for injury prevention and chronic pain reduction, and to alter the function of a joint. The medial unloading (valgus) knee brace is an option for patients with medial knee osteoarthritis, but evidence of long-term benefit is limited. The patellar stabilizing brace helps maintain proper patellar alignment but has mixed results in treating patellofemoral pain syndrome. The patellar tendon strap is effective in treating pain from patellar tendinopathy. The knee immobilizing splint is used after surgery to prevent reinjury and for acute or presurgical management of quadriceps rupture, patellar tendon rupture, medial collateral ligament rupture, patellar fracture or dislocation, and other acute traumatic knee injuries. Use of a functional ankle brace is more effective than immobilization or a compression wrap in terms of functional outcomes after an acute ankle sprain and prevention of future ankle sprains. The thumb spica splint is effective for the treatment of thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis and de Quervain tenosynovitis, and may be used for patients with suspected scaphoid fractures. A wrist splint has short-term effectiveness in treating symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome but may not be more effective than other conservative therapies.


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