Chronic ankle pain can cause a severe limitation in daily activities as well as sport activities. Ankle pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems, however more commonly it is due to ankle instability. The ankle as with most joints is stabilized and held in place by a myriad of soft tissue structures including ligaments and tendons. When these ligaments or tendons become stretched or strained by repetitive motions or injury, they do not perform optimally and allow the ankle joint to become unstable. The loosened tendons and ligaments allow increased motion in all directions across the ankle joint and may even allow the ankle joint to become temporarily dislocated during activity. This temporary dislocation of the ankle joint is known as an ankle sprain. Multiple ankle sprains in an individual are an indication that the ankle joint is very unstable and no longer functions appropriately. This requires treatment to re-balance and stabilize the ankle.
Treatments vary and can range from conservative non-surgical techniques to surgical repair of ankle ligaments or tendons. A common non-surgical intervention involves ankle bracing or strapping. An ankle brace or strap may be applied to the ankle during periods of increased activity and functions as a bolster that supports the ankle and allows the joint to function correctly.
Another conservative treatment method may include the use of arch supports that are inserted into the patient’s shoe, and offer stability to the ankle by providing a stable platform and support for the foot. Arch supports are available in generic type devices which are made to fit a variety of individuals or in a custom device that is tailored to fit the specific individual.
Ankle braces and arch supports may also be used in combination to produce a superior result than either treatment alone and when coupled with physical therapy can be quite effective.