What is the role of braces in the acute treatment of ankle sprains?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019
  • Author: Craig C Young, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Answer

Immobilization can aid healing but can hinder it as well. Acutely protecting the weakened, painful area is appropriate, but prolonged immobilization leads to muscle atrophy and loss of motion. Limited stress creates a stronger scar formation, because the collagen fibers line up parallel to the stress instead of at random. For these reasons, limited immobilization with a stirrup or lace-up ankle brace is usually used, whereas casting is avoided. (See the images below.)

Ankle brace Ankle brace
Example of a lace-up ankle support. Courtesy of Sw Example of a lace-up ankle support. Courtesy of Swede-O, Inc.
Example of a brace for immobilization or functiona Example of a brace for immobilization or functional purposes. Courtesy of Swede-O, Inc.
Example of a brace that can be used for functional Example of a brace that can be used for functional purposes. Courtesy of Swede-O, Inc.
Example of a brace secured with Velcro straps. Cou Example of a brace secured with Velcro straps. Courtesy of Swede-O, Inc.
Example of a lace-up ankle support brace with figu Example of a lace-up ankle support brace with figure-8 straps. Courtesy of Swede-O, Inc.

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