Bracing the Foot and Ankle
By: Dr. Rick Grayson, DPM, CPed
What is an Arizona AFO?
An AFO device (Ankle Foot Orthosis) is used as a non-surgical treatment modality to support an affected lower extremity. They can be over-the-counter or custom made AFO’s to treat conditions of the feet, ankles, and up to the knees in some circumstances. An Arizona AFO incorporates plastic along with a custom molded leather lacer.
What is an Arizona AFO used for?
An Arizona AFO is usually prescribed for pain relief, gait abnormalities, post-surgical control of foot reconstructions and orthopedic deformities. Common pathologies treated may include:
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)
- Achilles tendon pathologies
- Diabetic Charcot bone and joint disease states
- Cerebral palsy
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Certain post-stroke conditions.
Flat Feet and Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
A very common condition treated with these AFO’s is Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction(PTTD). Prior to this dysfunction a condition called Posterior Tibial Tendonitis(PTT) usually presents first. These can progress into various stages of adult acquired flatfoot. These conditions, if left untreated, can be progressive if left unsupported. They can lead to surgical reconstruction and/or disability. If the condition does worsen or is recalcitrant to the conservative treatment, then you must be checked for chronic steroid use, Reiters Syndrome, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Psoriasis.
What is the Process?
Once a prescription is received and a thorough evaluation is performed, the procedure includes:
- Obtain a plaster or fiberglass impression of the foot, ankle, and lower leg is made.
- Custom lab fabrication will then fill the cast with plaster to make a mold accurate to your anatomy, and to make sure you have appropriate biomechanical alignment. The AFO is then made with molded leather, polypropylene plastic, and foam for padding. The lace up method is the most popular, but Velcro closures can be used. If appropriate this AFO may be hinged if range of motion is needed at the ankle. After the break-in period this orthosis should be comfortable to wear. Sometimes a shoe size up may be necessary for an appropriate fitting. Follow-up appointments may be necessary for any adjustments or modifications.
What can I Expect?
Very often, staying active and pain free can be achieved from an Arizona AFO. Consult with your physician or podiatrist for an appropriate prescription. The earlier you seek treatment for these conditions, the better result you will have.
Call Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience today for your free consultation!