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Arthritis sufferers could be spared the ordeal of surgery thanks to a 'Robocop' brace that supports the knee, restoring movement and alleviating pain, even in severe cases.
The brace, made from lightweight plastic and soft fabric, can be worn under trousers and uses strapping that exerts a gentle sideways pull, helping to align the joint.
Hinge - Side - Knee - Force - Effect
A hinge that sits on the side of the knee takes some of the downward force, and the combined effect allows patients to carry out activities normally and more frequently.
A landmark study published earlier this year followed 63 patients who wore a so-called unloading or offloading brace. All were awaiting total knee replacement (TKR) surgery.
Patients - Years - Brace - Years - Cent
The patients were followed up after eight years, and of those who wore their brace consistently for two years, 40 per cent no longer felt they needed an operation.
The same style of brace – the Unloader One, made by Icelandic company Ossur – has been worn by TV star Ant McPartlin, 41. He recently revealed his struggle with painkiller-addiction following 'botched' knee surgery.
NHS - National - Institute - Health - Care
NHS watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence now advises that all patients should be offered a brace as an option before surgery, and last week British swimming legend Sharron Davies told The Mail on Sunday how wearing an Unloader One has allowed her to avoid a TKR.
Eight million Britons suffer with knee osteoarthritis – often dubbed 'wear and tear' arthritis – with rates rising in younger patients due to increased sports and activity or previous knee injury.
Knee - Operations - UK - Year - TKRs
About 150,000 knee operations are conducted in the UK each year, with just over half being TKRs. The total NHS bill for knee replacements is about £419 million a year.
However, the eight-year study found long-term use of the Unloader One can delay and reduce the amount of surgical intervention needed...
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