Your ankle joint provides much-needed support for the lower half of your body, acting as a shock absorber and steadying you when you walk, run, or jump. Sports activities or even normal daily activities can put your ankle at risk for injury, the most common of which is an ankle sprain. Ankle braces can help prevent these injuries and also provide additional support following a sprain as your ankle heals. DMEforLess is here to offer a selection of ankle braces through our online store. We provide affordable options directly to patients, so they don’t have to spend the extra money that results from markups by retail stores or hospitals. Please feel free to browse our selection and reach out to us if you have any questions.
What Is an Ankle Sprain?
The ankle joint connects the two bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula, with the talus of the foot. These bones are held together by several ligaments, which allow the joint to move and stretch. An ankle sprain is an injury that occurs when any of the ligaments in the joint are damaged. The most commonly affected ligament is known as the anterior talofibular ligament or ATF. The ligaments of the ankle can be damaged when you sharply twist, turn, or land at an unusual angle. An ankle sprain can range from mild to severe, depending on how badly the ligaments are damaged. These types of injuries are classified by the severity of the damage to the ligaments, using the following classifications:
- First Degree: A first-degree sprain is the least severe and occurs when only a few ligament fibers are damaged.
- Second Degree: A second-degree sprain is characterized by more extensive damage to the ligament, which causes swelling in the area.
- Third Degree: A third-degree sprain is the most severe and is classified as a complete rupture or tear of the ligament. This is accompanied by swelling and may result in possible joint dislocation.
Ankle sprains occur when any of the ligaments of the joint are stretched too far or tear. This most commonly occurs when you make a rapid shifting movement while your foot is planted, but it can also happen when your foot lands incorrectly after jumping or stepping. In most ankle sprain injuries, the ankle rolls outward while the foot turns inward, which pulls the ligaments too far and damages them. This type of injury is especially common in sports due to the quick movements of athletes but can also happen in everyday life. Some of the most common causes of ankle sprains include:
- Participation in sports that require jumping or quick changes in direction, such as basketball, tennis, football, or soccer
- Landing awkwardly on your foot after jumping or pivoting
- Walking, exercising, or hiking on uneven terrain
- A fall that causes your ankle to twist in one direction while your foot twists the other
- Another person landing or stepping on your foot during an activity
- Everyday activities like stepping off a curb or stair
First-degree sprains can usually heal on their own without the need for medical attention. However, this only works if you give the joint proper rest. You’ll have to slow down on your activities and may need to ice the affected area. Even once the injury feels better, you’ll want to ease back into activities and ensure your ankle is supported. Otherwise, you’ll end up right back where you started. More severe sprains will require the care of a doctor. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor if the pain is so intense that you can't bear any weight on the foot or the pain isn't improving within the first few days.
How Long Do Ankle Sprains Take to Heal?
Because the severity of ankle sprains can vary so much, the recovery time can range from several days to several weeks, depending on how badly the ligaments are damaged. A minor first-degree sprain can usually heal within five to fourteen days. A more severe second-degree sprain will take significantly longer to heal, usually requiring four to six weeks. Obviously, third-degree sprains will take the longest to heal, as they are the most severe. Because a third-degree sprain results in a complete tear, which causes significant instability in the joint, you’ll need about eight to twelve weeks to fully heal.
The Best Ways to Avoid an Ankle Sprain
Though you can bounce back from an ankle sprain and return to your normal activities, repeated injuries of this area can weaken the joint and ligaments. For this reason, it’s best to do everything you can to prevent a sprain from happening in the first place, especially if you regularly play sports and other activities that put you at higher risk for a sprain. Ensuring your ankle is properly protected and supported will help you avoid repeat injuries that weaken the joint over time. Some of the best ways to help prevent ankle sprains include:
- Warming up before you start exercising or before any sports activities
- Wearing ankle support braces, especially if you have previously injured an ankle
- Taking caution when you walk, run, hike, or work on an uneven surface
- Completing stability training like balance exercises
- Maintaining muscle strength and flexibility
- Avoiding wearing high-heeled shoes
Ankle braces have become a popular way to prevent ankle sprains as well as to help support previously injured ankles. Your doctor may suggest you wear a brace following your injury until the joint has regained some of its strength. This is especially true if you have completely torn some of the ligaments, as they will need plenty of support as they fully heal. Wearing a brace throughout the day as you walk or exercise will provide the support your ankle needs as it heals, and you can continue to wear it even after your ankle has healed to prevent future injuries. There are a variety of braces to choose from. Some of the most common types of ankle braces include
- Soft Braces or Supports: This type of brace is usually made of an elastic or neoprene material and slides onto the foot and around the ankle like a sock. They provide mild support and also work to keep the muscles and ligaments of the muscles warm so that they don’t stiffen up during activities. The compression also helps with swelling and discomfort.
- Semi-Rigid Braces: Semi-rigid braces provide mild to moderate support to address more serious injuries or weakness in the ankle. These braces come in two different styles, lace-up and hinged. A lace up brace uses strong materials, such as ballistic nylon which is a very durable performance fabric. A hinged brace has two semi-rigid sides and extra padding for comfort and is secured in place with hook and loop fasteners.
- Rigid Braces: A rigid brace uses hard, molded plastic to create rigid support on each side of the ankle. The hard plastic if often lined with air bladders and/or gel pads that can be frozen for cold therapy, which aides in reducing swelling. Hook and loop fasteners wrap around the foot for a secure and custom fit. They help prevent the ankle front rolling side to side. For added support, you can wear your ankle brace inside of a sneaker.
- Cold and Compression Therapy Ankle Brace: Cold compression therapy combines the benefits of cold therapy and compression therapy to provide optimal results for pain and swelling relief.
At DMEforLess, we are here to provide the medical equipment you need, including ankle braces. Our online store offers a huge selection of braces at an affordable price. We cut out the middleman and pass the savings onto you, allowing you to purchase ankle braces for much less than you would at a retail store or doctors' office. Our team can ship your products anywhere in the US and Puerto Rico. We also have customer service representatives available to answer any questions about how to wear the brace for maximum support. Please reach out to us today for help!