(HealthDay)—For patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA), valgus knee bracing is associated with improvements in pain, according to a meta-analysis published in the April issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Rebecca F. Moyer, Ph.D., from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and colleagues conducted a of randomized controlled trials to examine the effects of valgus knee bracing on pain and function. Six studies that compared changes in patient-reported pain and/or function in patients with medial knee OA were included in the analyses.

The researchers observed a significant difference favoring the valgus brace group for improvement in pain (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.33; P = 0.001) and function (SMD, 0.22; P = 0.03) overall. The effect size was moderate for pain (SMD, 0.56; P = 0.04) and function (SMD, 0.48; P = 0.04) when compared with a control group that did not use an orthosis. Only a small, significant effect for pain remained (SMD, 0.33; P = 0.01) when compared with a control group that did use a control orthosis. There was considerable variation in instructions for brace use, and compliance varied from 45 to 100 percent. Minor complications with brace use were reported by up to 25 percent of .

"Meta-analysis of randomized trials suggests valgus bracing for medial knee OA results in small-to-moderate improvements in ," the authors write. "Effect sizes vary based on study design and warrant future research."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Arthrex.