The effect of knee bracing on the knee function and stability following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2019 Oct;105(6):1107-1114. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2019.04.015. Epub 2019 Jul 3.


Background: Knee brace has been commonly used as a device to protect the graft after reconstruction of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Studies have focused on the effects of braces after ACL reconstruction, and controversial results were reported. The current meta-analysis was conducted to identify whether knee braces could provide superior clinical outcomes on knee functional scores and stability evaluations.

Hypothesis: Knee braces could not provide superior clinical outcomes on knee functional scores and stability evaluations.

Materials and methods: Two reviewers independently retrieved the literature on PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). Data related to the knee functional scores and stability evaluations, including International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) evaluation, Lachman test, manual anterior drawer test, single leg hop test, pivot shift test, side-to-side difference, Lysholm score and Tegner score, were extracted and pooled using meta-analysis with fixed or random- effect models when applicable.

Results: A total of 7 studies with 440 participants were finally included. The IKDC objective score was pooled using the odds ratio (OR) as effect size, which was demonstrated to be non-significantly different between the brace and no brace groups. All of the other clinical outcomes, including Lysholm score, Tegner score, side-to-side difference, single-leg hop test and VAS pain score, were pooled using the standard mean difference (SMD) as effect size. At final follow up, the aforementioned clinical outcomes were demonstrated to be similar between the brace and non-brace groups.

Discussion: Knee bracing does not appear to improve the clinical outcomes on the function and stability for ACL-reconstructed knees. Thus, bracing for patients treated with ACL reconstruction should not be recommended routinely.

Level of evidence: I, Meta-analysis.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction; Knee brace; Knee outcomes; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / physiopathology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / methods*
  • Braces*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*