Durable Medical Equipment and Braces – FAQ
By Bryan Anderson, Certified Athletic Trainer
DME or Durable Medical Equipment and Braces FAQ
How tight should my brace/straps be?
They should never be “tight”. They should only be snug enough against the skin to ensure that the brace does not slide and remains in the proper position. Numbness or tingling is a sign that your circulation may be impaired by the brace. If you are experiencing pain or your circulation is being impaired then the straps should be loosened.
Can I wash my brace?
Yes, you may wash your brace but do not put it in the washing machine or dryer. Instead, after removing any metal or hinges, you should hand wash only the cloth parts in the sink with mild soapy water and lay flat to dry.
How do I know if my brace is fitting me correctly?
With a sling, you want the straps around your waist to be snug with your arm elevated slightly upwards, never positioned downward. With a knee brace you want the hinges to be aligned at the center of the joint line with a snug fit around the thigh and calf. With a boot you want your heel to be all the way to the back with your foot in a neutral (90 degree) position and the toes not hanging over the edge.
Can I wear my knee brace over my pants?
A proper fit will be under the pants and against the skin. This will ensure the brace fits correctly and provides the support that it is supposed to. It is okay to wear the brace over a sleeve or over something that is skin tight, like leggings.
Do I have to use the air pump on my boot?
The air pump on the boot inflates air bladders that run on either side of your ankle. It can help to provide further comfort by making the boot snug and filling the space around your ankle where you may have extra space to move. For some injuries this may feel good and for others it may cause discomfort. It will be up to you whether or not this is something to use. It is not recommended for those who have circulatory or nerve conditions, as you can easily impair your circulation with the added pressure.
How does the unloader brace work and how much “unloading force” should I use?
The unloader brace works by applying a pressure to the opposite side of your knee where you are feeling discomfort. This pressure is applied in the last 15 degrees of your knee extending, helping to open up the joint space on the side that is having the bone on bone compression. With reduced bone on bone compression, the brace can potentially help to alleviate your pain. The amount of unloading force will be prescribed by your physician and determined by patient tolerance. Every patient may require a different amount of force to alleviate his or her pain. Spend some time adjusting your brace to determine which amount will work best for you.
How long and how often should I wear my brace?
This is going to vary person to person. The length of time you should be wearing your brace and how often will be determined by your physician and physical therapist.