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In general terms it is a progressive condition also known as degenerative joint disease. The knee joint is formed where the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone) and the patella (kneecap) meet. The bone surfaces that come into contact with each other are covered with a protective smooth cartilage that cushions the bones and enables them to slide across each other without friction. With age and use this articular cartilage deteriorates, leaving bone surfaces exposed and the joint space narrowed. Bones often respond by growing more bone, further decreasing the distance between them. Eventually movement of the knee joint causes the bones to rub directly against each other, triggering inflammation, pain and deformity.
Unloading the involved side or compartment of the joint is how a knee orthosis can aid in OA related knee pain. Simply put the knee orthosis applies a corrective force system on the limb that forces weight off of the involved or arthritic joint surface and shifts a percentage of that weight to the opposite side of the knee. This in turn reduces the degree of pain and increases mobility while prolonging joint duration.