Patellar Joint Distraction Bracing; an innovative new therapy for trea - NuNee™️
Patellar Joint Distraction Bracing; an innovative new therapy for treatment of Anterior Knee Pain

Patellar Joint Distraction Bracing; an innovative new therapy for treatment of Anterior Knee Pain

by Michael Emmerling February 28, 2023

What is Patellar Joint Distraction?

"Joint distraction, the mechanical separation of the bones at a joint, has emerged as a joint-preserving treatment for end-stage osteoarthritis, with the gradually growing promise of implementation in regular clinical practice. Joint distraction of the knee has been most extensively studied, with these studies showing prolonged symptomatic improvement in combination with repair of cartilage tissue in degenerated knee joints, supporting the concept that cartilage repair can translate into real clinical benefit".

Joint distraction works by unloading the affected joint and providing a controlled distraction force across the joint. This force helps to reduce pressure on the joint and can help to relieve pain. In addition to relieving pain, joint distraction can also help to repair and restore cartilage. When the joint is unloaded, the cartilage can absorb more nutrients and oxygen, which can help to promote healing and restore the health of the joint.

Patellar Joint Distraction (PJD), describes the mechanical separation of the patella (kneecap) and the femur (thigh bone). PJD bracing is an easily applied, non-invasive, drug free technique that has gained popularity in recent years as a means of augmenting exercise therapy for the treatment of AKP. Dr. Ben Shatto PT, DPT, OCS has been using PJD to augment his treatment plans since 2019 because "it relieves pain and improves knee function, allowing me to progress patients more effectively through their exercise therapy plan."

What are the benefits of Patellar Joint Distraction?

Recent studies support the use of Patellar Joint Distraction (PJD) for treatment of Anterior Knee Pain (AKP) due to its ability to provide immediate pain relief and restore knee function. When applied using an innovative bracing system called NuNee®, 89% of patients experienced immediate pain relief which enabled them to resume provocative exercise such as running. What's more is that 100% were pain free after 6 weeks of use while exercising.

Why is Patellar Joint Distraction effective when treating AKP?

AKP, also referred to as patellofemoral pain, is a common condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in young adults who are physically active. Women are also more likely to experience this condition than men. AKP can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, injury, or structural abnormalities.

The patella, or kneecap, is a small bone that sits in front of the knee joint and moves up and down as the knee bends and straightens. In people with AKP, the patella may not move smoothly, causing pain and discomfort. This can be due to a number of factors, including weakness or tightness in the muscles surrounding the knee, imbalances in muscle strength, or structural issues such as patellar malalignment or instability.

PJD helps relieve joint pressure, promote proper alignment and tracking, and stabilize the patella, which relieves pain by allowing it to move smooth and free once again. PJD can be accomplished using a patellar bracing system, such as the NuNee® brace (Figure 1), which applies a gentle anterior lift on the patella, clinically referred to as anterior distraction force. Highly effective, PJD "frees" the joint and restores pain free movement.

Figure 1 NuNee Patellar Bracing System

Patellar Distraction Bracing is being used as an adjunct to exercise therapy

Bracing innovations like NuNee provide a low cost, low risk therapy option that supports the American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) mission of delivering high-value care. As a non-surgical, pharmaceutical-free treatment option, NuNee is easily applied at the clinic or at home. By providing a stable and properly aligned patella, patients are better able to progress through exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee joint.

Specifically designed for easy application and comfort, patients are encouraged to wear the NuNee brace during exercise therapy sessions, as well as activities that provoke pain such as climbing stairs, squatting, running, and jumping. It allows patients to resume those daily activities without knee pain, which aids in the progression and compliance with their rehab plan.  

Figure 2 Progression of therapy plan with NuNee patellar bracing

Patients that use the NuNee brace during exercise therapy are able to progress through their plan more effectively, which improves outcomes and results in a better patient experience.

In conclusion, patellar joint distraction is a valuable technique for augmenting exercise therapy for the treatment of anterior knee pain.

Medical professionals can request a FREE EVALUATION SAMPLE of the NuNee Patellar Bracing System by emailing 

Michael Emmerling
Michael Emmerling


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