Stability and strength in the lower extremities are the secrets to efficient, safe movement and athletic activity. Your ankles can benefit from several precautionary and injury management measures, including the use of braces. Here is a guide on when to wear an ankle brace and how it can serve your foot and ankle health.
Ankle Braces and What They Do
The brace is a highly reliable piece of durable medical equipment, or DME, which provides support and motion stabilization of the foot and ankle. Key in injury management and prevention, ankle braces come in several types which podiatrists and orthopedic specialists can custom-fit for each patient according to need and desired therapeutic goals.
Some braces are gel-filled to cushion and reduce pain in the ankle. Others support and correct the position and motion of this complex, weight-bearing joint. All ankle braces should fit comfortably within athletic footwear or the shoes which the patient most often uses.
For example, the right ankle brace manages injuries, such as sprains, strains and fractures, and prevents reinjury. It does this by avoiding excessive plantar flexion of the foot and by preventing the ankle from rolling.
Worn consistently and properly, ankle braces can:
- Decrease scarring after injury or surgery
- Lessen the need for pain medications
- Slow the development of arthritis, gout and tendonitis
- Correct minor deformities and gait issues
- Provide a safer return to athletic play after injury or surgery
- Maximize athletic performance
- Deliver first-aid in the form of compression to limit swelling and loss of range of motion in an injured ankle
Ankle braces are rarely stand-alone treatments. Typically, they are used in conjunction with physical therapy, surgery, orthotics, or custom-fit shoes which accommodate foot deformities and other treatment modalities.
Types of Ankle Braces
There are many different kinds of ankle braces, the most common of which is the fabric compression sleeve. This simple brace provides light support as it is slipped over the ankle and worn while walking, running, or playing a sport, such as tennis or basketball.
Other types of ankle braces include:
- The velcro strap or lace-up brace useful after a moderate ankle sprain
- The stirrup brace, used for longer recovery times, as after reconstructive surgery or a severe ankle fracture or sprain
- Hybrid braces which feature Velcro and stirrups to deliver long-term support for ankles compromised by multiple sprains or arthritis
Regarding Sports Injuries
While not a cure-all or absolutely fool-proof method of injury prevention, ankle braces do help athletes keep their lower extremities healthy and functional. However, the braces must fit properly and be used with quality, sport-appropriate footwear. Experts at the Mayo Clinic report that while the number of ankle sprains young athletes suffer may not decrease in number when using ankle braces, the severity of the injuries may be lessened.
Ankle Braces in Fall River, MA
Conservative podiatric treatment plans often work best to alleviate the dysfunction and pain of sprains, tendonitis, arthritis, plantar fasciitis and more. Plus, prevention of acute and chronic foot and ankle problems is always a part of what we do and recommend at Foot & Ankle Institute of New England.
If you have a recurring ankle problem and wonder if bracing would help, contact one of our three locations to arrange a consultation. Our three podiatrists are widely experienced in foot and ankle health, and they enjoy educating their patients on the why’s and how’s of lower extremity movement and care.
Or, if you prefer, you can request an appointment online, and one of our friendly staff members will get back to you. Our offices are located in Warwick and Middletown, RI, as well as Fall River, MA. We hope to see you soon!