Ankle osteoarthritis (OA) can be a very painful condition that can limit your activity level causing a negative impact on your quality of life. Ankle OA occurs when the articular cartilage in the ankle has worn away resulting in bone on bone irritation.

Most often, the OA condition is a result of previous ankle trauma such as ankle sprains or fractures. Although ankle sprains or fractures might fully heal, the trauma can eventually lead to joint deterioration and ultimately OA. Underlying medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also be debilitating to the ankle joint.  

For the most part, ankle osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear on the joint from years of activities that put strain on the ankles. OA does increase with age causing the ankle cartilage to wear thin providing less cushioning between the bones.

SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

Symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis include:

  • inflammation and swelling around the ankle joint
  • ankle pain and stiffness
  • pain when standing, walking, or bearing weight

When it comes to treating your ankle osteoarthritis, your doctor may recommend a number of options:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce joint swelling and pain
  • Physical therapy to aide in reducing joint inflammation and regaining ankle range of motion.
  • The use of an ankle brace to reduce weight bearing pain and help prevent excessive ankle movement that can cause further injury

THE BEST ANKLE BRACES FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS PAIN

While long term physical therapy can help a patient with their ankle OA, the quickest option to reduce joint irrigation and pain may be the use of an ankle brace.

While most ankle braces are designed to help prevent excessive ankle turning, some ankle braces are also designed to reduce weight bearing pain associated with ankle injuries. For an ankle brace to reduce weight bearing pain it must “unload or offload” the ankle. “Unloading” means the ankle brace will absorb some of the impact from standing or walking that would normally be transferred to the ankle joint causing irritation and pain.

Our Ultra CTS (Custom Treatment System) ankle brace is designed for individuals that have an acute ankle injury and weight bearing pain, but it is also equally effective for OA sufferers who need relief from the bone on bone irritation which is causing their OA. The Ultra CTS works by absorbing a portion of the impact created from standing or walking and then applies that impact “or energy” to the lower leg thus bypassing the sore ankle.

Less impact means less pain and joint irritation.

Since ankle OA is mainly caused by a history of ankle trauma which could include multiple ankle sprains or fractures, it stands to reason the ankle may be unstable which is contributing to the joint wear and tear. The Ultra CTS will stabilize and firm up the lower leg and ankle which will help control unwanted joint movement which causes excessive irritation and pain. Since the Ultra CTS has a hinge, full up and down ankle range of motion is encouraged to help keep the muscles strong and the joint flexible.

With ankle osteoarthritis the goal is to reduce joint irritation so the condition doesn’t worsen. Wearing the Ultra CTS is a great way to reduce or slow down the effects of OA so you can maintain a healthy and mobile lifestyle.

If you have any other questions about ankle braces for your ankle osteoarthritis, leave us a comment below or send one of our certified athletic trainers a message.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Seeing as an estimated 25,000 ankle sprains occur per day in the United States, it’s no surprise that thousands of people each day are looking for ways to remedy their newly injured ankle. As an athletic trainer who has diagnosed and treated thousands of ankle injuries over the past thirty years, here is my step-by-step guide for what you should do when you sprain your ankle.

Diagnosing an Ankle Injury

It’s important to take a close look at your ankle immediately after the injury occurs since swelling and pain can make injury evaluation difficult several hours later when the joint is starting to get stiff and sore. Generally speaking, there are two types of ankle sprains that are diagnosed depending on where the injury is located on the ankle – the low ankle sprain and the high ankle sprain. In this post we are going to mainly discuss the low ankle sprain, but you can read more info on high ankle sprains here.

For the classic inversion ankle sprain the main site of pain and usually swelling is localized on the lateral/outside of the ankle. Alternatively, if you have suffered an eversion ankle sprain, the pain and swelling with occur mainly on the inside of the ankle.

Discomfort and pain is usually evident when the injured person tries to walk. Discoloration of the skin can occur from 24 to 48 hours after the injury, starting on the lateral side of the ankle then spreading with gravity.

If after 24 hours your pain is mild, you have little swelling and can walk on your ankle with little or no pain, it’s probably just a mild Grade 1 ankle sprain. If you have any severe pain or swelling you should consult with a medical professional as it’s possible you may have a Grade 2 or Grade 3 ankle sprain.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience any of the items below it’s best to consult a medical professional:

  • If anything looks abnormal when compared to the opposite leg and ankle.
  • If you heard a popping sound when the injury occurred which may indicate a torn ligament or fracture.
  • If you can’t walk due to pain, or your ankle feels unstable when you stand.
  • If your injury shows no improvement after 3-4 days

Do you Have Access to a Certified Athletic Trainer?

If you are playing on a high school or collegiate team your school probably employs an athletic trainer. Even if you are playing on a club team you still probably know an athletic trainer that works at your school that could help you out. Athletic trainers have extensive knowledge in evaluating ankle injuries and can provide both treatment and rehabilitation protocols to get you back on your feet and return to activity.

Recovering from an Ankle Sprain

After one ankle injury, you are 70% more likely to sustain another ankle injury. The ankle joint is supported by ligaments and once these ligaments are stretched/torn due to an ankle sprain, they remain stretched. This causes the joint to become loose and unstable making yet another ankle injury much easier to obtain. In order to stop this mechanism of injury and help to prevent future ankle injuries, the proper steps must be taken to recover from an ankle sprain.

  • Seek Medical Attention if Needed – Failure to properly identify all possible damage to your ankle may lengthen healing time and cause more damage.
  • Move Early – Perform some gentle range of motion exercises right after injury help to improve functional outcomes and may decrease your return-to-play time.
  • Protect and Support ­– Wear the appropriate ankle brace support system until your injury has healed and you can evaluate your next steps.
  • Control Pain – Use the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method to help control pain in addition to anything recommended by your medical professional.
  • Strengthen – Perform any physical therapy exercises specifically prescribed to you as you recover from your injury.
  • Help Prevent Future Ankle Injuries – Even with strong muscles, perfect biomechanics, and great conditioning, ankle sprains are still possible and in some situations highly likely to occur. After spraining your ankle, the best way to prevent reoccurring ankle injuries and further damage to your ligaments is to wear a preventative ankle brace that is comfortable to wear and provides full range of motion. Lace-up ankle braces are not recommended due to their negative impact on strength and performance/range of motion.

When it comes to ankle sprains and injuries, every situation is different. The notes above should serve as a guide to helping you after you sprain your ankle but do not take the place of medical advice. Should you have any questions about specific ankle injuries or ankle braces please reach out to our certified athletic trainers or leave us a message in the comments below.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

In the U.S. an estimated 25,000 ankle injuries occur each day, so you are probably no stranger to having a sprained ankle or seeing someone else sprain their ankle. Generally speaking, there are two types of ankle sprains that are diagnosed depending on where the injury is located on the ankle – the low ankle sprain and the high ankle sprain.

LOW ANKLE INJURY

This is the classic ankle injury where the ankle rolls inward stretching the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle joint. Medically this is called an inversion ankle sprain. 80% of all ankle injuries are inversion related. The alternative to an inversion sprain would be when the ankle rolls outward, again stretching the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle joint resulting in an eversion ankle sprain.

Low Ankle Injury Brace Recommendations By Situation

  • Help prevent ankle injuries – Ultra Zoom
  • Help recover from mild to moderate ankle sprains – Ultra Zoom
  • Treat chronic ankle instability and it’s resulting injuries – Ultra High-5

Additional Resources

HIGH ANKLE INJURY

High ankle injuries occur when the foot/ankle externally rotate, stretching the tissue holding the two lower leg bones (tibia & fibula) together. This injury occurs above the ankle joint, thus the name high ankle injury. An athlete with a high ankle injury will have more pain and a longer rehabilitation period when compared to a low ankle injury. Medically this injury is called a syndesmotic’ ankle injury.

High Ankle Injury Brace Recommendations By Situation

  • Wearing a Brace After an Acute Injury – Ultra CTS
  • Transitioning out of a Walking Boot to an Ankle Brace – Ultra CTS
  • Return to Activity After a High Ankle Sprain – Ultra High-5

Additional Resources

Recovering from an Ankle Injury

Depending on the type and severity of the sprain you get, there are a variety of treatment options available to help you return to activity as quickly and safely as possible. Before returning to play or beginning any rehabilitation on your injured ankle, it’s important for you to consult your medical professional to receive a treatment plan that is specific to your injury.

After you’ve healed, your doctor may continue to prescribe an icing regimen, rehab exercises, and the use of an ankle brace to aide your treatment.

With each ankle sprain, the ligaments in your ankle joint become more and more loose, making the odds of a re-sprain occurring as high as 70%. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that strength/balance exercises are completed as well as wearing a preventative ankle brace to help prevent or reduce the severity of future ankle injuries if, and when, they occur.

If you’re not sure which ankle brace would be most helpful for your situation, send one of our athletic trainers a message and we’d be happy to talk through it with you!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

Treating syndesmotic ankle injuries with an ankle brace really took a leap forward with the invention of hinged-cuff technology. We all know syndesmotic or “high” ankle injuries occur when the ankle and lower leg rotate in opposite directions. The ideal ankle brace for this condition would be one that restricts ankle and lower leg rotation. That is what the “cuff” accomplishes in hinged-cuff  ankle brace design.

Ultra Ankle® introduced the first semi-rigid hinged-cuff ankle brace design in 2000. Prior to that, semi-rigid ankle braces were designed with two separate side uprights that can move independently which sacrifices rotational stability. By connecting both ankle brace side uprights together with a semi-rigid cuff, you create restriction/resistance in the rotational/horizontal plane. Furthermore, now you have designed an ankle brace that has a solid U-shape in both the vertical and horizontal plane, creating resistance to ankle inversion “turning” and ankle rotation “twisting.”

Since we introduced hinged-cuff technology in 2000 other companies have also introduced their version of the same design. Today, hinged-cuff ankle brace design is the industry standard for designing semi-rigid ankle braces. However all hinged-cuff ankle braces are not the same, especially when treating syndesmotic ankle injuries.

What typically accompanies rotational ankle pain with the high ankle injury is also weight bearing pain. And if you have weight bearing pain, your chances of playing are slim. That is why you need to select an ankle brace design that unloads the ankle in order to reduce weight bearing pain. Lace-ups, tape, as well as other semi-rigid ankle braces that have a heel opening or flexible heel cannot unload the ankle. The ankle brace must have a solid U-shape in the vertical plain in order for the brace to absorb the impact or energy, not the sore ankle.

At Ultra Ankle® we have developed two hinged-cuff technology ankle braces which restrict excessive ankle inversion and rotation, as well as unload the ankle.  The Ultra High-5® is a semi-rigid ankle brace designed for chronic ankle instability and reoccurring joint pain. The Ultra CTS® is designed to treat acute syndesmotic ankle injuries by providing significant lower leg compression and stabilization to reduce ligament stress as well as unload the ankle to reduce weight bearing pain.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries
abstract

When we were developing the Ultra CTS® acute injury brace we were really astounded at the level of comfort and stability you can achieve by compressing the Tibia and Fibula together, especially with syndesmotic injuries.  However the key was to provide stable compression up to 8 inches above the malleolus.  Tape alone could not provide the structural integrity necessary to stabilize the lower leg and ease pain. Most rigid plastic ankle braces were too low on the leg to provide enough compression, plus they were so rigid making them uncomfortable.  This data lead us to develop the first PerformaFit® detachable shell technology that provided significant Tib/Fib compression and stabilization, easing weight bearing pain, promoting early activity after injury.

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