This case series explored the clinical benefits of the Spring Loaded tri-compartment offloader (TCO) among patients with diverse patterns of knee osteoarthritis (OA). Unlike previous bracing studies, this study did not limit its study population to individuals with similar OA patterns or symptoms.
A survey was completed in a group of 40 adults who exhibited varied patterns of activity-related knee pain characteristic of patellofemoral (PF), tibiofemoral (TF), or combined PF and TF OA. Participants used the TCO brace for at least 1 month and reported on outcomes including pain, function, physical activity, quality of life, and use of medications and other treatments before and after brace use.
Validated outcome measures including the visual analog scale (VAS) and the Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS) were used to assess pain and physical function, respectively. Exploratory measures were used to quantify physical activity levels and use of medication and other treatments.
Following TCO brace use, patients reported significant improvements in measures related to pain, function, mobility, and use of medication and other treatments. These findings indicate strong promise for the TCO brace to serve as a conservative treatment gap for individuals with varied knee pain symptoms indicative of PF or multi-compartmental OA.
Major findings can be summarized as follows:
- All 40 participants experienced reduced knee pain. The average total VAS score after TCO brace use was significantly lower than baseline.
- 97.5% of participants had increased LEFS scores after TCO brace use. The LEFS score improvements surpassed the minimal clinically relevant difference (MCID) among all symptom groups.
- 70% of participants experienced increased physical activity with the use of the TCO. Weekly physical activity levels increased by 2.2 hours, 7.3 hours, and 9.4 hours for the TFOA, PFOA, and Combined groups, respectively.
- Weekly medication use significantly decreased among the 65% of participants who reported using medication at baseline.
- 60% of participants reported a decrease in their use of at least one other treatment for their knee OA, including allied health services, injections, and aids.