Opportunities and Challenges in the US Market for Orthopedic Braces and Supports

More than 5 million knee braces and supports were sold in the US in 2011, many of them for sports injuries of the knee.  Other commonly used orthopedic bracing devices are for the ankle and wrist. Orthopedic braces and supports offer protection to joints, tendons and ligaments as well as providing pain relief and increased mobility for people suffering from a wide range of musculoskeletal problems.  The total US market for bracing devices used for the knee, ankle, wrist, shoulder and back is expected to grow at almost 5 percent CAGR over the next few years.

According to Marketstrat Inc. the US Market for Orthopedic Braces and Supports is characterized by some well-established segments and others that are under-penetrated and have good growth potential.  The report highlights the following key trends and characteristics of the braces and supports market:


  • Segments that are well established and have good insurance coverage include knee braces for osteoarthritis and post-op and rehabilitative braces for all joints that are prescribed by a clinician.
  • Knee bracing accounts for the largest share of revenues.  The US market for knee braces and supports is expected to exceed $1.2 billion in revenues by 2018.
  • Good growth opportunities exist in the ankle and wrist braces and supports market due to high injury rates.  The ankle segment in particular has good growth potential.
  • Consumers are willing to pay out-of-pocket for many products; off-the-shelf soft braces and supports for pain relief and protection offer good alternatives to prescription products.  With looming reimbursement restrictions, off-the-shelf products and easily-customized devices offer lucrative opportunities for manufacturers to expand their market share.

Market Drivers include growing rates of musculoskeletal injuries due to greater participation in sports and fitness activities, occupational injuries from repetitive tasks and a growing population of people with chronic pain from arthritis, diabetes and neurological conditions.  A wide sales and distribution network is helping to raise awareness as well as increasing accessibility.  Braces and supports can be purchased through on-line vendors, retail pharmacies and sports stores, medical device suppliers, physiotherapy and chiropractor practitioners, etc.

Market Restraints include reimbursement restrictions, loss of employer-provided insurance, slow economy and availability of a wide range of alternative treatment and management options.  Medicare and private insurers are redefining coverage for medical devices, either completely eliminating or severely restricting coverage for soft braces, ligament braces, custom-built braces etc.

Competition is intense in the orthopedic bracing market.  The dominant players are orthopedic and sports medicine specialists.   DJO brands like DonJoy, Aircast, ProCare, etc. have the largest market share.  Other significant players like Ossur, Bledsoe, Bird and Cronin, Breg, McDavid, Mueller, Hely and Weber, FLA Orthopedics and Otto Bock.


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