An Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO) is a brace that incorporates a custom made orthotic, into a brace that extends above your Ankle joint. This allows for full control of motion at both the Subtalar joint and Ankle Joint. In most instances, these braces are covered by insurance.
Joint motion is generally controlled by muscles and tendons. If those muscles loose their mechanical strength, from disease or long standing deformity, then motion of the joints are uncontrolled. This can lead to improper gait (ability to walk) and will place increased pressure on the joints, which can lead to degenerative arthritis.
Conditions Where AFOs are Beneficial
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (Adult Flatfoot)
- End-Stage Arthritis
- Drop Foot
- Neuromuscular Disorders
If muscular control of foot motion is compromised, an AFO can hold the foot and ankle in the proper position, removing strain from the muscles and joints. If arthritis has reached it's final stage, an AFO can keep the joint from moving, which will substantially decrease pain.
Sometimes, it is important to limit foot motion, but still advantageous to allow the ankle to have full motion. In these instances, an Articulating AFO is prescribed by your podiatrist. This prevents the ankle from becoming stiff, from disuse, while still providing the support needed for the foot.
Dr. McSpadden participated in research involving the use of an Articulating AFO with Physical Therapy, as conservative treatment for Adult Acquired Flatfoot (PTTD). The research poster won 2nd place prize at the Annual Scientific Conference for the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons in 2010. Read more about their research in this review article.
If you are interested in learning more about Ankle-Foot Orthotics, call us at 512-593-2949 or CLICK HERE to Schedule an Appointment.