Pros: Works, inexpensive, velcro closure makes it easy to put on and remove.
Cons: I'm skeptical of the claims of the healing power of magnets in the brace.
I'm a thirty four year old stuck with the knees of a much older woman. I was diagnosed with chrondomalacia of the patella in my left knee in 1996, and in my right knee about two years later. Now, in 2005, I've actually started experiencing pain on a pretty regular basis.
Orthopedist after orthopedist gave me knee braces to use, but I always found them too restrictive. I don't like to say I have "thunder thighs" but when a size "L" brace squeezes uncomfortably tight, I can only presume that the size of my thighs doesn't help the matter any. Even when I wear single digit clothing sizes, my quads and hamstrings are ample. In fact, my freakishly strong quads are apparently part of the reason why my patella tracks all out of whack over the joint.
So when I stumbled upon the Homedics TheraP Magnetic Therapy Knee Support brace at a local Bed, Bath and Beyond, I was intrigued by it. Principally, I was intrigued to see that it had velcro enclosures so I could wrap it as tight, or as loosely as I wanted. I also liked that it was a simple wrap-style brace with no strange buckles or belts to fiddle with. I purchased the brace for about $15 and brought it home.
About Homedics and the TheraP Magnetic Therapy Knee Support Brace
Homedics (www.homedics.com) has been around for about fifteen years. They specialize in products to improve consumers' health and well-being. From fountains, to those neat squish pillows that have come out in the past year, to braces and back massagers, Homedics sells just about every creature comfort you can think of for holistic healing and well-being.
The "TheraP" line of products are designed to heal injuries and alleviate joint and body pain. Homedics began selling Magnetic Therapy products several years ago. They make the following claims about their use of magnets in wraps and compresses:
"Magnetic Wave Therapy - studies have shown that magnets may be an effective all day therapy for enhancing the relief of pain and improving blood flow."
This specific knee support contains what Homedics refers to as: "12 powerful neodymium magnets". These magnets are tiny circles that are inlaid into the seam of the cut-out hole that lays over your patella, or knee cap. The exterior of the wrap is navy blue and the interior is a black neoprene.
The actual composition of the product is listed as 75% neoprene and 25% nylon. The wrap should be hand-washed only, and the size that we own is L/XL.
Using the Wrap
Using the wrap is simple: With your leg only slightly bent, simply align the patella opening over your knee cap, with the "Homedics TheraP" label on your upper thigh, and fasten the two velcro enclosures on the back. Be careful that you fasten them so that they're not too tight, and so that the hard velcro material won't rub or chafe your skin. It took me a few tries to get used to fastening it just right.
How Well It Works
The wrap does seem to alleviate my pain. I try not to wear the wrap constantly, as wearing a support can actually weaken the muscles surrounding the knee, which need to be strong to support it. I often wear the wrap at night when I'm at home.
The wrap gets very warm. The warmth isn't due to the magnets, but rather the fact that neoprene is a very insulating material. If I wear this wrap to sleep, I invariably wake up in the middle of the night with a sweaty knee. Fortunately the velcro makes it easy to rip the wrap off, even when half asleep.
As I mentioned, I feel that the wrap offers some relief from my knee pain, but I've done some research on "magnetic therapy" online and come up with nothing that convinces me the embedded magnets have anything to do with the relief. Still, I've paid up to $100 for more "professional" level braces that doctors gave me, and never found those wearable or comfortable. So this brace certainly does a very good job for its price.
I like this brace more than any other brace I own. It's very comfortable, simple to put on and remove, and it doesn't cut off the circulation in my legs. It seems to work, although I'm not convinced that the magnets are the magical force behind its efficacy.
If you're looking for a good brace for your knee (or your elbow, they make those as well) I recommend the Homedics TheraP Magnetic Therapy line of braces. I don't recommend them because of the magnets. I recommend them because they're comfortable, easy to use and inexpensive.
Overall, I'm giving this product four stars, docking it only one because of the occasional discomfort from the hard velcro, and the questionable efficacy of magnetic therapy.