9 Best Knee Braces for Meniscus Tears and What to Look for

McDavid's 429X Brace has straps to direct compression around the knee cap

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Best Knee Braces Meniscus Tears

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

A torn meniscus is a tear in the cartilages between the femur and tibia, often caused by movements like sudden twisting, pivoting, and stopping. While not a substitute for surgery or physical therapy, braces can support and stabilize the knee. It's helpful if a brace is not too loose or tight, according to Kevin D. Walter, MD, program director of Pediatric and Adolescent Sports Medicine at Children's Wisconsin.

Reviewed & Approved

Made with adjustable straps, McDavid's 429X Brace directs compression around the kneecap and supports meniscus tears. If you're looking for an affordable option, we recommend Bodyprox's Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers.

When looking for a brace for a torn meniscus, look for one that offers compression. Braces that compress are usually made of neoprene or fabric, Dr. Walter says. Finally, look for brace types called “unloader braces.” They "can take pressure off the injured side, whether it’s the medial or the lateral side. That’s going to help with comfort and movement,” Dr. Walter says. 

We researched dozens of knee braces for meniscus tears and evaluated them for support, comfort, fit, and value. Each of the knee braces featured wins on one or more of these factors.

According to our research, here are the best knee braces for meniscus tears on the market.

Best Overall: McDavid 429X Knee Brace

4.8
McDavid Knee Brace

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Prevents overheating

  • Adjustable straps

  • Moisture-wicking

Cons
  • Runs small

  • May slip when in use

We chose the McDavid’s 429X Knee Brace as our top pick, because it offers an optimal balance of stability and comfort. The brace boasts an open-patella design, which is engineered to direct compression around the kneecap. This will provide targeted support to your meniscus without leaving your kneecap feeling trapped or overheated.

The brace’s adjustable cross straps will allow you to get the snug fit you’re looking for while providing an extra layer of support above and below your knee. And, perhaps most importantly, the brace comes reinforced with geared side hinges, which will leave your knee feeling stable and supported without overly restricting your range of motion.

The knee brace is crafted from a compressive neoprene fabric that promises to keep your muscles feeling warm and relieved throughout wear. The brace also comes equipped with a breathable back panel designed to manage moisture, so you can rest assured knowing your knee will remain relatively cool, dry, and comfortable as you go about your favorite activities.

Style: Compression brace | Material: Neoprene | Adjustable: Yes

Best Budget: Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers

Bodyprox Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers

Amazon

Pros
  • Moisture-wicking

  • Offers compressive support

  • Adjustable straps

Cons
  • Velcro straps are short

  • May slip when in use

Many knee sleeves are available at a budget price, but it’s rare to find a knee brace that's as affordable. Bodyprox’s Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers offers much of what you’d expect from a knee brace—an open-patella design, adjustable cross straps, and spring stabilizers—at a decidedly affordable price, making it an excellent choice for those looking for support and relief on a budget.

The knee brace is crafted from a breathable neoprene fabric that promises to offer compressive support without limiting flexibility or comfort. We also love that the fabric absorbs sweat, so it promises to keep your knee dry and comfortable throughout wear.

Because the brace is designed to wrap around the knee, you can adjust its flexible straps to get the snug fit you’re looking for. Like many knee braces, this one is reinforced with spring stabilizers, which frame the kneecap, offering support and stability.

Style: Compression, wraparound | Material: SBR, nylon, spandex | Adjustable: Yes

What Experts Say

"Wearing a knee brace can make people feel more confident after a meniscus injury, but it shouldn't replace the importance of addressing any movement, strength, or neuromuscular deficits—that’s the real heart of the issue. Most meniscus tear patients could benefit from working with a physical therapist to craft an overall treatment and therapy plan. You should also always consult with your orthopedist before selecting a knee brace to help you cope with a meniscus tear." —Brandon Schmitt, DPT, ATC, Chair of the Knee Special Interest Group of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy

Best Hinged: Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Support

Shock Doctor Ultra Knee Support

Dick's Sporting Goods

Pros
  • Adjustable straps

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Prevents odor and bacteria

Cons
  • Bulky structure

To those looking for a heavy-duty knee brace, we recommend Shock Doctor’s Ultra Knee Support. For starters, the brace comes equipped with flexible side stabilizers. These frame the knee—running along the left and right sides of the brace—offering stability while also keeping the brace firmly in place as you go about your favorite activities.

The adjustable straps that run along the top and bottom of the brace will allow you to get the cozy fit you’re looking for while providing further support. And the heavy-duty bilateral hinges on either side of the knee will ensure that it feels thoroughly supported, without overly restricting your range of motion.

Though this knee brace is decidedly bulky, it promises to be comfortable and relatively flexible. The brace’s pre-curved anatomical design offers a snug fit (and one that’ll feel just as comfortable on the left and right knee). The brace is crafted from a breathable, antimicrobial fabric that promises to increase airflow while cutting down on odor, bacteria, and moisture.

Style: Compression brace | Material: Neoprene | Adjustable: Yes

Best Wraparound Brace: TechWare Pro Knee Brace

TechWare Pro Knee Brace

Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Adjustable straps

  • Moisture-wicking

Cons
  • May slip when in use

  • Velcro may wear over time

TechWare’s Pro Knee Brace is a relatively lightweight way to get the support you crave from a knee brace. The brace boasts a wraparound design, giving you the flexibility to get the snug, cozy fit you’re looking for. Because the wraparound brace is made up of three straps (which fasten in opposite directions), it also ensures that pressure and stability are evenly distributed on and around your knee.

Like many knee braces, this one comes reinforced with flexible spring stabilizers, which frame the knee to offer further protection and support. We like that the brace is crafted from a lightweight, breathable fabric that promises to wick moisture, keeping the knee dry and comfortable throughout wear.

The brace also comes equipped with non-slip silicone strips, which run along the top and bottom of the brace to ensure it stays firmly in place as you complete the day’s activities.

Style: Compression brace | Material: Neoprene | Adjustable: Yes

Best Compression Sleeve: PowerLix Knee Compression Sleeve

4.9
PowerLix Knee Compression Sleeve

Amazon

Pros
  • Offers compressive support

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Includes a warranty

Cons
  • No adjustable straps

PowerLix’s Knee Compression Sleeve is crafted from a tight, breathable fabric that offers support and relief. The brace is designed to apply stable pressure across the knee without limiting mobility or range of motion. We think it’s an excellent choice for those who find traditional knee braces too restrictive. Because it’s a sleeve, it doesn’t come reinforced with the side stabilizers or hinges you’d expect to find in a heavier-duty knee brace.

The compression sleeve promises to wick moisture during wear, keeping your leg relatively dry and comfortable, even when you’re working up a sweat. According to PowerLix, this should also keep the brace generally odor-free, and it should cut down on some of the irritation commonly associated with knee sleeves.

Like many compression sleeves, this one comes equipped with silicone gel strips that run along the top and bottom of the sleeve, promising to keep it firmly in place as you move around. What’s nice? It also comes with a six-month, no-questions-asked guarantee. So if you don’t love the product, you can get 100 percent of your money back.

Style: Compression sleeve | Material: Compression fabric | Adjustable: No

Best Knee Wrap: Mava Sports Knee Wraps

Mava Sports Knee Wraps

Amazon

Pros
  • Adjustable hook and loop closure

  • Offers compressive support

  • Non-slip grip

Cons
  • Tends to fray and snag

Mava Sports’ Knee Wraps offer maximal flexibility, and each one is composed of a single, 72-inch strap that you can wrap around your knee to craft a brace that’s as long and as tight as you want it to be.

The wrap is crafted from a stretchy, high-performance elastic fabric that offers compression without limiting the range of motion. This should give you some of the support and relief you’d expect from a more traditional knee brace while giving you the flexibility to craft a knee brace that meets your exact needs.

In addition to being incredibly flexible, we also like that the knee wrap promises to be easy to use. Each wrap comes with an adjustable hook and loop closure, which makes it easy to fasten once you’ve crafted your perfect fit. Mava Knee Wraps promise to stay firmly in place during wear, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them slipping, unrolling, or falling off mid-activity.

Style: Compression wrap | Material: Elastic, polyester | Adjustable: Yes

Best Low-Profile: Pure Support Knee Brace Compression Sleeve

Pure Support Knee Brace Compression Sleeve

Amazon

Pros
  • Offers compressive support

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Non-slip

Cons
  • Runs small

  • May be hard to put on

Pure Support’s Knee Brace Compression Sleeve boasts the sleek, low-profile design you’d expect from a compression sleeve. But it also comes equipped with the stabilizing, supportive straps you’d find in a knee brace. We love the result, which is a combination brace that’s both sleek and supportive—and discreet enough to wear during everyday activities. 

Pure Support’s Knee Brace Compression Sleeve is crafted from a stretchy compressive fabric that promises to apply targeted pressure across the knee joint without restricting your range of motion. Because the fabric is breathable and moisture wicking, it also promises to cut down on itching, bacteria, and other potential irritants.

The sleeve comes equipped with a no-slip grip band that runs along the top of the brace to hold it firmly in place as you move around. And since the brace comes equipped with a series of stabilizing cross-straps, you can expect an added dose of support above and below your knee.

Style: Compression sleeve | Material: Elastic yarn | Adjustable: No

Best for Arthritis: Physix Gear Knee Support Brace

Physix Gear Knee Support Brace

Amazon

Pros
  • Offers compressive support

  • Breathable fabric

  • Easy to put on

Cons
  • No adjustable straps

  • May slip when in use

Physix Gear Sport’s Knee Support Brace is a compressive knee sleeve that promises to offer comfort, support, and relief in equal measure. The sleeve is crafted from a durable, flexible fabric that will contour to your knee, offering you a snug fit that moves with you as you go about the day’s activities.

Like many compression sleeves, this one will give you support across the entire knee joint. And, according to Physix Gear Sport, the stability the sleeve offers makes it a great choice for those with osteoarthritis.

The brace is designed to be lightweight and breathable. And we love that, given its low-profile silhouette, it can easily be worn underneath clothing. Whereas many knee sleeves can be hard to get on, this one is easy to put on. And because the sleeve comes equipped with no-slip silicone straps, it will stay firmly in place during use.

Style: Compression sleeve | Material: Nylon, lycra | Adjustable: No

Best for Temperature Therapy: Vive Knee Ice Pack Wrap

Vive Knee Ice Pack Wrap

Amazon

Pros
  • Works as a cooling and heating pad

  • Leakproof gel packs

  • Machine-washable

Cons
  • Tends to fray and snag

Vive’s Knee Ice Pack Wrap is a knee brace that doubles as an ice pack and triples as a heating pad. The soft, comfortable brace comes equipped with four adjustable straps. These will allow you to get a fit that’s as tight and compressive as you want it to be, offering you the exact balance of comfort and support you’re looking for. 

The brace comes with three built-in, removable gel packs that can be chilled in the freezer for cold therapy or warmed in the microwave for heat therapy. The brace is designed with three gel pack pockets—two at the front of the knee, and one at the back of the knee—so you can slip each gel pack into place to apply temperature therapy where you need it most.

Each gel pack is leakproof and reusable. And we love that the brace is machine-washable for added convenience.

Style: Compression, hot or cold therapy | Material: Neoprene | Adjustable: Yes

Final Verdict

Despite its many supportive features, McDavid’s 429X Knee Brace has a relatively low-profile design. We think it’s an excellent choice for those who want the support and stability of a heavier-duty brace without the clunkiness that often comes with it.

To those looking for a lighter, more budget-friendly option, we recommend Bodyprox's Knee Brace with Side Stabilizers. This option supports your knee through compression.

How We Selected the Best Knee Braces for Meniscus Tears

We began our research by consulting four experts—a sports medicine doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, and two physical therapists—about what to look for in a knee brace for a meniscus tear. Then, we considered dozens of well-rated knee braces, assessing them for support, comfort, and value.

When it comes to knee braces, support and comfort are often in competition with each other. You’ll find heavy-duty braces, stretchy braces, and everything in between. To accommodate a range of needs and preferences, we sought to feature best-in-class options at different points along this spectrum, favoring braces that excelled at stability, excelled at flexibility, or offered a little bit of both.

We also considered whether braces were breathable, moisture-wicking, or adjustable (all positives in our book). And we weighed a brace’s strengths against its price point to assess overall value.

What to Look for in Knee Braces for Meniscus Tears

Brace Type

There are a variety of knee braces to choose from, including wraparound options, compression sleeves, unloader braces, and hinged braces. “A simple knee sleeve may be enough for some people, whereas a brace with metal or plastic supports on both sides may be necessary for someone who is still working on regaining strength and mobility of the knee,” Erin Pereira, PT, DPT, says. 

If stability is the main concern, a sleeve will work best. If you need to displace weight from an injured knee, an unloader or hinged brace might be better. Pereira notes that, while a brace may help, no single brace will provide full support for everyone, and she encourages people to speak with their physical therapist or doctor to determine what’s best for them.

Materials

A knee brace can be made with one or multiple types of materials. Some, like sleeves, are crafted with fabric, while unloaders often feature plastic and metal supports, aiding in lateral support.

“Breathable materials such as mesh and moisture-wicking fabrics increase comfort,” Pereira says. She adds that neoprene is used to create a tight and comfortable fit, while velcro straps can assist in providing a more stable structure. It’s important to be aware of comfort because an uncomfortable brace won’t be worn as often.

Size

Most over-the-counter braces include a simple sizing guide that relies on calf, thigh, and knee circumference. Depending on the severity of your meniscus tear or the type of support you wish to achieve, a custom brace—fitted by a doctor, physical therapist, or specialist—may be more beneficial. 

Pereira notes that a well-fitted brace shouldn’t slip down your leg during normal activity. “It also shouldn’t cut off circulation or cause numbness or tingling in your leg, or it may be too small.”

Stability

The stability of your brace should directly correlate with your injury or activity level. Pereira says that if your knee is weak and you’re worried about stability in your day-to-day activities, a more supportive brace, physical therapy, or surgery might be necessary. “If it’s pretty stable and you just want a little support, then don’t go for the big brace with supports, perhaps just a sleeve for compression will do,” she says.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long do you wear a knee brace for a torn meniscus?

    The amount of time you should wear a knee brace really depends on what type of tear you have and the treatment protocol. If you’ve had surgery, you may be in a brace that locks for about six weeks, according to Rick Rutkowski, PT, DPT, physical therapist in New Jersey.

    However, if it’s a chronic, degenerative meniscal tear, then you may not need one at all. “If you have swelling but have had no surgery, then a soft neoprene type brace may help you feel and function better,” he says. In that case, consult your doctor or physical therapist on when and how long you should wear a brace.

  • How long do knee braces last before they need to be replaced?

    There is no rule of thumb for how long you can wear a knee brace before it needs to be replaced. So instead of looking for a timeframe, pay attention to what your knee brace looks like—and whether it’s still offering the support you need. “Braces should be replaced if there is excessive wear and tear where the lining is, or if other features are beginning to lose their usefulness,” Jonathan Gelber, MD, Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon at Olmsted Medical Center, says.

    He notes that you may also want to check with your insurance provider to see when they will cover a new knee brace for you.

  • Should I wear a knee brace for any meniscus tear?

    According to Dr. Gelber, you can use a knee brace for a lateral meniscus tear or a medial meniscus tear. And he specifically recommends using a knee brace for a meniscus tear after surgery (rather than as a preventative measure). “Where I use knee braces the most in relation to the meniscus is after surgery, where we can use braces to limit weight bearing bending to less than 90 degrees,” he says. “This can help prevent additional shear forces across the healing meniscus.”

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