Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle
When it comes to Achilles tendonitis, finding the right treatment can be a challenge. Does an ankle brace help Achilles tendonitis?
This common condition, characterized by pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, can be caused by various factors, including overuse, injury, and age. While there are many treatments available, including rest, physical therapy, and medication, one question that often comes up is whether or not an ankle brace can help.
Ankle braces are commonly used to provide support and stability to the ankle joint, and they are often recommended for people with ankle injuries or chronic ankle instability. However, when it comes to Achilles tendonitis, the use of an ankle brace is a bit more controversial.
Some experts believe that an ankle brace can help to reduce the strain on the Achilles tendon, while others argue that it may actually do more harm than good by restricting ankle movement and causing the muscles in the lower leg to weaken.
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Table of Contents
- 1 What is Achilles Tendonitis?
- 2 Ankle Braces for Achilles Tendonitis
- 3 How to Choose an Ankle Brace for Achilles Tendonitis
- 4 Tips for Using an Ankle Brace for Achilles Tendonitis
- 5 Summing it Up: Does an Ankle Brace Help Achilles Tendonitis
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is a common condition that occurs when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, becomes inflamed and irritated. It is often caused by overuse, such as repetitive jumping or running, or by wearing shoes that do not fit properly or provide enough support.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
The most common symptom of Achilles tendonitis is pain and stiffness in the back of the heel, especially when walking or running. The pain may be mild at first but can worsen over time, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. Other symptoms may include swelling or tenderness in the area, a creaking or cracking sound when moving the ankle, and limited range of motion in the ankle joint.
Causes of Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis can be caused by various factors, including overuse, improper footwear, and tight or weak calf muscles. It is also more common in people who participate in sports that require a lot of jumping or running, such as basketball or tennis. Age can also be a factor, as the tendon loses elasticity and strength over time, making it more prone to injury.
Ankle Braces for Achilles Tendonitis
People with Achilles tendonitis may experience pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the heel. Ankle braces can be a helpful tool in managing these symptoms.
This section will discuss how ankle braces work, the types of ankle braces for Achilles tendonitis, and the benefits of wearing an ankle brace for Achilles tendonitis.
How Ankle Braces Work
Ankle braces work by providing external support to the ankle joint, limiting certain motions that can aggravate the Achilles tendon. By restricting abnormal motion, ankle braces help to reduce stress on the tendon, allowing it to heal and recover.
According to Mayo Clinic, “Ankle braces serve as the external supports to limit certain motions, such as plantar flexion/inversion (movement at the ankle joint that points the foot downward away from the leg and turns the foot inward), and provide awareness of where your ankle joint is in space.
Types of Ankle Braces for Achilles Tendonitis
Several types of ankle braces can be used to manage Achilles tendonitis. The most common types include:
- Rigid ankle braces
- Semi-rigid ankle braces
- Elastic or Compression ankle braces
Rigid ankle braces are made of hard plastic and provide the most support. Semi-rigid ankle braces are made of a combination of hard plastic and soft materials, providing some flexibility while still offering support. Elastic ankle braces are made of stretchy materials and are the most flexible, but provide less support than rigid or semi-rigid braces.
Benefits of Wearing an Ankle Brace for Achilles Tendonitis
Wearing an ankle brace can have several benefits for people with Achilles tendonitis. Ankle braces can:
- Reduce pain and swelling
- Provide support to the ankle joint
- Limit certain motions that can aggravate the Achilles tendon
- Improve proprioception (awareness of where the ankle joint is in space)
However, it’s important to note that ankle braces should not be relied upon as the sole treatment for Achilles tendonitis. Ankle braces should be used with other treatments, such as rest, ice, physical therapy, and medication, as a healthcare professional recommends.
How to Choose an Ankle Brace for Achilles Tendonitis
A comfortable ankle brace can provide support and compression to the Achilles tendon, which can help prevent or ease the pain associated with Achilles tendonitis. However, with so many available options, choosing the best ankle brace for your needs can be challenging. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an ankle brace for Achilles tendonitis:
Factors to Consider
Compression Level: Ankle braces with higher compression levels can help reduce swelling and inflammation. However, they may also be more restrictive, limiting movement and affecting performance.
Fit: The ankle brace should fit snugly without being too tight or loose. It should also be comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Material: Ankle braces can be made of different materials, such as neoprene, nylon, or elastic. Consider the breathability and durability of the material when making your selection.
Design: Ankle braces can come in different designs, such as lace-up, slip-on, or wrap-around. Consider which design is most comfortable and convenient for you.
According to the Ergotoes, the best way to treat Achilles tendonitis is to wear an ankle brace and follow other remedies recommended by a health professional. They suggest choosing an ankle brace that provides primary protection and compression to the Achilles tendon.
Choosing the right ankle brace for Achilles tendonitis can help speed up the recovery process and get you back on your feet faster. Consult a health professional to determine which ankle brace is best for your needs.
Tips for Using an Ankle Brace for Achilles Tendonitis
Proper Fitting and Adjustment
When using an ankle brace for Achilles tendonitis, it is important to ensure that it fits properly and is adjusted correctly. A poorly fitting brace can cause discomfort, and irritation, and even worsen the condition. To ensure a proper fit, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or follow the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines.
Adjusting the brace correctly is also crucial. The brace should be snug but not too tight and not impede proper blood flow. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the brace and make any necessary adjustments throughout the day.
When using an ankle brace for Achilles tendonitis, it is important to follow a wearing schedule appropriate for the severity of the condition. In general, it is recommended to wear the brace during activities that may aggravate the condition, such as running or jumping, and to remove the brace during periods of rest or when sleeping.
It is also important to gradually increase the amount of time the brace is worn each day, starting with short periods of time and gradually increasing to longer periods as the condition improves. Following a wearing schedule can help prevent further injury and promote healing.
While an ankle brace can be an effective treatment for Achilles tendonitis, it is often used with other treatments to maximize results. Physical therapy, stretching exercises, and rest are common treatments for Achilles tendonitis.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific condition. They may recommend additional treatments such as ice therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroid injections.
While using an ankle brace for Achilles tendonitis can be beneficial, some precautions should be taken. It is important to monitor the condition and adjust the brace as needed. If the condition worsens or does not improve with the use of an ankle brace, it may be necessary to seek additional treatment.
It is also important to avoid activities that may aggravate the condition, such as high-impact sports or activities requiring sudden stops or direction changes. Following these precautions can help prevent further injury and promote healing.
Summing it Up: Does an Ankle Brace Help Achilles Tendonitis
While ankle braces can provide some relief for individuals suffering from Achilles tendonitis, they are not a cure-all solution. Ankle braces can help to stabilize the ankle and reduce the risk of further injury, but they are not a replacement for proper treatment and rehabilitation.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of Achilles tendonitis. Treatment may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.
Additionally, individuals may benefit from incorporating exercises and stretches to strengthen the calf muscles and improve flexibility. This can help to alleviate symptoms and prevent future injury.
Overall, while ankle braces can be a helpful tool in managing Achilles tendonitis, they should not be relied upon as the sole form of treatment. Taking a comprehensive approach to treatment and rehabilitation is important to ensure a full recovery and prevent future injury.