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What to wear for foot or ankle pain

Your foot hurts and you’re trying to expedite the recovery process? Which brace may work best for you…? 

The vast majority of injuries and pains can be treated non surgically. This allows the patient to try to be as active as possible, to continue to work and go to school but at the same time help the patient. However, finding the correct brace to accompany your injury and find the best comfort is most important. 

Isolated Foot Protection 

If there is pain or injury at the front of the foot starting at the toes or going into the midfoot, one of the easiest ways to support the foot initially is to have appropriate shoe wear with stiffness in the shoe. For example, choose a tennis shoe over a flat or a work boot over a sandal to ensure more support. Additionally, in the shoe one can put an insert that protects the foot to stiffen the shoe or offloads a spot on the bottom of the foot that may be bothersome. 

Sometimes inserts are not enough for the patient or it’s hard to know on your own what to use. In this case you should seek a professional who will provide you guidance on where to begin. Another easy way of giving temporary protection would be to use an orthopedic sandal, also known as a post-operative shoe. Essentially this is a flat stiff surface attached to a sandal on top which does not allow the foot to bend when you are walking. This limits the motion activity of the foot allowing the area to rest and you to still get around. This kind of brace is good for stress fractures, toe fractures, pain on the bottom of the foot, and temporary injuries. An orthopedic sandal can be worn temporarily for several days up to a few weeks.  

Ankle and Foot Protection  


If you need more protection than what the post-operative shoe can provide the next step up would be the boot or walking cast. This does the same job as the sandal, however, incorporates more of your ankle, heel, and some of the lower leg. If you have an injury or worsening pain in this area than the boot may be a better option for protection. This gives more protection because it further immobilizes more joint, especially the ankle. These can be worn for a week to several weeks depending on how bad the injury is. Guidance from an orthopaedic surgeon such as Dr Adam Miller will ensure that you are on the right track towards recovery.  

Activity/Sports Related Protection 

Another type of injury considered an active injury such as an ankle sprain or rotational injury is where you may be able to get around with support of a brace device. With this you are still able to walk but have pain in the ankle with more aggressive activity such as running, sports, or yardwork on uneven ground. For these dynamic injuries a simple brace may be more effective, and you may not need a boot entirely. This is where the ankle brace would work nicely as it fits right into a shoe allowing the ankle to maintain strength while giving it time to naturally improve! A simple brace can be worn intermittently depending on when the pain occurs and sometimes may be worn up to several weeks. Your orthopedic surgeon can help you decide when and how long that is needed for your injury.   

Custom protection 

If none of the introductory braces or boots seem to be working for your injury or are not enough for those with arthritis or long-standing problems, there are custom options that can fit into a shoe. These are called orthosis which can be small or large depending on the need for the patient. These are usually applied for long-term use and are typically used as an alternative to surgery. The prescription is written by a physician depending upon the diagnosis, deformity, and pain. You meet with an Orthotist who will make a mold of the lower leg to decide and help fabricate what is needed. Once it is made after a few weeks, the patient will begin to try it out and support it. This will be used and worn for pain protection as a long-term use. 

It is often good to start off and try a brace on your own if you’re able to walk on the injury and you are open to trying something protective initially. If injury does not get any better, seek an opinion by Dr. Adam Miller.  If someone you know is needing foot and ankle care Dr. Miller is Beacon Orthopedics foot and ankle specialist and is available at several locations around the Cincinnati area. Contact us today for more information! Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment with Dr. Miller for foot and ankle injuries.