A custom ankle and foot brace offers significant advantages over anything that is mass-produced because it is made to address your specific issues and to fit your ankles and feet exactly. The purpose of a custom brace is to make corrections in the motion and mechanics of your feet and ankles. Custom braces can provide benefits for anyone who is susceptible to injury or who simply needs better mechanical support.

Your podiatrist may sometimes refer to an ankle foot orthotic (AFO), which is a device designed to restore correct function to the foot and lower leg together. For the purposes of this discussion, however, we will use the phrase “ankle and foot brace” to describe the full range of customized options your podiatrist may prescribe.

The team at North Florida Foot & Ankle Center is ready and able to find a customized solution for you.

What Conditions Can Be Addressed by Custom Braces?

Ankle and foot braces can be helpful as a means for correcting or ameliorating an array of conditions, including:

  • Drop foot
  • Neuropathy
  • Severe arthritis
  • Foot and ankle deformities or abnormalities
  • Tendon issues
  • Post-operative healing
  • Fallen arches 
  • An unstable gait

Who Can Benefit From Custom Braces?

Athletes of all levels (from pros to weekend warriors) and ages (from adults to teenagers to youth) are among the primary users of custom ankle and foot braces. Just as the brace itself is customized, the ways in which it is used are personalized as well. 

For example, an athlete may only wear their brace during practices and competition. Or, they may wear a brace while recovering from surgery but then stop wearing it once their injury is fully healed. 

In some cases, an athlete may be interested in a custom brace as a preventative measure. Individuals with preexisting injuries such as ankle sprains or instability, Achilles tendon issues, peroneal issues, other tendon pathology or injuries, high or low arches, and/or arthritis can avoid further pain or damage with a custom brace. 

Custom ankle and foot braces can also help athletes (and others) who supinate—that is, who walk on the outside of their foot—or who have other abnormal biomechanics. This can minimize pain and make it more likely that they can enjoy the activities of their choice.

The benefits of custom ankle and foot braces are not limited to those who compete in sports, however. People with neuropathy—including those with diabetes who have balance issues or those who have suffered neuropathy due to other ailments or as a side effect of certain prescription drugs—and others who have had an injury in the past and want to lessen the likelihood of reinjuring themselves can find it useful to invest in a custom brace.

How Are Custom Ankle and Foot Braces Created?

Remember, the key characteristic of the braces we are discussing here is that they are custom fit for each patient. That process includes a number of steps:

  1. A podiatrist performs a thorough examination that may include X-rays, gait analysis, and a biomechanical exam.
  2. The podiatrist determines what kind of brace will serve the patient best.
  3. The podiatrist creates a custom mold of the foot and ankle that is used to make the brace itself.
  4. Once the brace is made, the podiatrist ensures that it is a good fit and feels good to the patient. The doctor also provides instructions for breaking in the brace.
  5. After approximately a month, the patient returns for a follow-up visit so that the podiatrist can make sure the brace is still fitting and functioning well.

All of that may sound expensive, but the good news is that in many cases, custom ankle and foot braces are covered by your insurance plan.

We Can Help You Put Your Best Foot Forward

Is a custom ankle and foot brace right for you? We can complete an evaluation and make a recommendation. Complete our contact form or call us at (904) 236-5023 to set up an appointment in our Nocatee or Jacksonville offices.