Support for Ankle Degenerative Joint Disease

Published: 01st September 2010
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If you have ankle degenerative joint disease should you wear a brace, splint or support?

It depends on two things:
1. What you are doing.
2. How bad your DJD is.

If you are doing something out of the ordinary or that you know will REALLY aggravate your ankle then you should consider using some support. But ONLY FOR THAT ACTIVITY and ONLY if your ankle degenerative joint disease is MODERATE OR SEVERE.

There is good reasoning behind this. If you only have mild ankle degenerative joint disease then the muscles, tendons, and ligaments (the soft tissue) should be able to function fairly normally as the joint will not be deformed yet. If you splint the joint you will weaken the soft tissue so it won’t be able to support your ankle. Also you will irritate the soft tissue by not moving it (if you are not sure about this then ask someone who has had a cast on for a fractured bone and how painful it was to move the joint when it came out of the cast) and so make your ankle more painful to move when you do.

The same logic applies to splinting too much for a moderate or severe ankle degenerative joint disease. You should not splint all the time but just for those VERY aggravating activities. If you splint all the time you end up with weak muscles that are unable to do their job and when they are asked to do something they give a lot of pain.

So if you can manage without any splints at all you are better off in the long term but at the risk of repeating myself never splint for long periods of time. Splint for the activity only, take it straight off and then use an ice pack! (If you are not sure how there should be an article on this site or sign up for the course below).


Most of my patients used to like Neoprene ones with Velcro straps, especially if they were towelling lined, as they seemed to be the most comfortable. Also Neoprene washes in the machine and seem to last for years-always a bonus!

So in summary yes you should sometimes wear a splint or support!

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