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Help for Bad Arthritic Ankle

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  • Help for Bad Arthritic Ankle

    Hi All!

    Back in January 2010, I annihilated my ankle in a bad fall off a horse. Now, almost two years later, I still have 2 plates and 9 screws in my leg. I've had 3 surgeries and have a minimum of one more to go. My achilles tendon has a tendency to contract causing all sorts of issues and I have post-traumatic arthritis as well. While I can't walk very well at all, riding is a bit easier and my pain doctor and surgeon both recommend riding as much as I can as it is therapeutic for my ankle.

    My question is... I ride dressage and am always looking for different things to help my ankle. Does anyone know of ankle braces or splints that are small enough to actually fit comfortably in boots? And anyone with similar issues, what types of stirrup irons do you use and why? What do you think of the ones where the top turns or the sides bend?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I broke mine 6 1/2 years ago, a tri malleolus fracture. I have a plate on the fib and a bunch of screws there and three on the medial side as well. I could have the plate removed but that would mean at least 6 weeks NWB.

    Ankles take TIME, sorry. You're just getting started.

    I also attempt dressage.

    So I don't use the beautiful Der Dau custom boots that arrved a few days after I got out of the hospital I wear Ariat Hannover paddock boots. They have elastic gussets at the ankle, lace up fronts and a zip up the back. They are much more comfortable than my previous paddock boots with just the front lace.

    MDC Intelligent stirrups set at 90 degrees.

    Ultra thinline half pad.

    For the frst year or so I would keep icepacks in a cooler by my mounting block. There were many days when I would dismount there, run up my stirrups, loosen the girth and sit on the mounting block icing my ankle before I could walk enough to put my mare away. Dismounting is still ugly. It's my left ankle so

    The upside is that you WILL learn not to brace into your stirrups.

    I still have trouble with cantering, Sophie tends to LAUNCH into canter and I stiffen, anticipating pain. It's a vicious circle but it's getting better.

    Walking first thing in the morning is also ugly.

    It does get better though
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


    • #3
      This is the one I've been using. It will fit inside my old Ariat lace ups. I don't think it would go in high boots. My PT suggested zip front jod boots to accomodate it if I couldn't get the old boots on.

      Visit my Spoonflower shop


      • Original Poster

        Thanks Carolprudm! It sounds like we have similar damage then as I also have 3 nice big screws on the inside (medial) of my ankle and then a fibula plate with 4 little screws and a second fibula plate down right on the joint that has two long screws going all the way through the tibia to hold my fibula where it belongs until it fuses to the tibia (sounds delightful doesn't it?!?). I know I'm no where near the end, but I'm trying to get as comfortable as possible. I still frequently have days where I simply can't walk at all because of the pain and my joint has a bad tendency to just lock up and not want to function at all. Have you tried the cheap bendy stirrups vs the MDC's? I've considered the MDC's, but I'm worried that they won't provide enough stability. Have you had any issues related to that?

        Thank you Red Mares!!! That actually looks like a helpful brace. I have a plethora of braces, but most of them either aren't comfortable, or won't fit in my shoes (currently I'm wearing the Ariat paddock like boots that look more like work boots than riding boots, I think they're called tellurides), or simply don't help at all (that's most of them). I have a back on track brace which doesn't really brace at all, but it's made to keep the joint warm and works well for the arthritis. However, it doesn't fit comfortably in my boots either. I like that that one is made to prevent the ankle from twisting sideways as well.... my now good ankle (which used to be the worst of the two) has always had problems with collapsing when fatigued and it happened the other day again, so I may look into these braces for BOTH ankles.


        • #5
          Originally posted by kris0227 View Post
          Have you tried the cheap bendy stirrups vs the MDC's? I've considered the MDC's, but I'm worried that they won't provide enough stability. Have you had any issues related to that?
          The MDC's work for me because the 90 degree turn in the loop minimizes torque on my ankle. The cheaper ones didn't do that. I read somewhere that MDC will send a loaner pair on trial. The plain flex stirrups did not work as well.


          are simlar to the boots I like
          I wasn't always a Smurf
          Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


          • #6
            It is physically impossible to roll an ankle in that brace. It is expensive though. I got mine through the doc, who charged $500 for it, insurance covered all but $40. Online it runs around $100.

            ETA: that's for the super lace up version. I've seen the "base" version for about 39.99. In boots I'm not sure you'd need an extra set of laces, where's your foot going to go?

            I've been through about 4 different phases of socks with this: thin socks, heavy socks, 1 pair, 2 pair, etc. In boots, Target knee highs seem to work the best because they are thin (& cotton). Also if you fold them over the top, it keeps the velcro in place. I have put a simple spiral lift elastic brace under it & it felt wonderful- stability & compression. That was just for walking; I never tried it riding.
            Last edited by red mares; Nov. 8, 2011, 01:09 PM. Reason: extra thought.
            Visit my Spoonflower shop


            • Original Poster

              Thanks! I will have to look into whether they'll send a loaner pair. Back when I was first considering something other than traditional irons, none of the tack stores would let me try before I buy. And if I'm spending that much on a pair of irons, I wanted to make sure I could stand them! Instead, I bought the cheapy ones to see how they worked and they do help, but like you, I still have to take some time before dismounting to make sure my ankle has recovered and relaxed from the stress of riding before trying to walk anywhere.

              I also feel your pain with new boots... I got my brand new super nice ariat paddock boots with the zipper (cause I hate the lace up kind), they were ordered in December and arrived a couple of days after I got home from the hospital... of course my family said... be glad you didn't get them on time, they would have been cut off of you! Unfortunately, the swelling currently precludes me wearing them, but someday... maybe... I'll be able to wear my two year old brand new pair of boots....


              • Original Poster

                Thanks Red Mares! I'm seriously looking at those because they do look like what I need for the stability factor (I have very loose joints which has been seriously complicating the healing process). I wish they weren't so expensive because I'd prefer to get one for each ankle!


                • #9
                  I have a mueller figure 8 brace that i can get on under my tall boots - easier now that i had zippers put in. But to ride every day I use a corset type brace that I can lace up and make wicked tight before lacing up my paddock boots. - this pair of boots has since stretched to accomodate the brace and i cant really ride with out it as its too gappy in all the wrong places

                  I have also taken apart my 'air cast' and slid the the hard stabllizer along the outside of my tall boots ( cushion removed) to help keep my ankle from rolling out. It's slim enough to get inside the boot and still zip it up. the figure 8 brace is good, but some days I need a little more if i m showing a few days in a row. you will get a wicked rub from it if you ride in it enough like that though. -- that air cushions there for a reason -- but doesnt fit in the boot :/

                  I tried using the 'dangles' stirrup pads, it helped me get the flexion back in my ankle, but I would not reccomend for long term use, as it irritated some scar tissue in my ankle. I also used the jointed irons for a while, but when I came back from my injury, i found there was too much instability in my ankle to keep using them. I have gone to the Grand Prix hyper nylon plastic irons with the wide tread/ foot base. That has definatly helped. I can also adjust the angle of the foot bed if I want with a hex key, so if i want to school the heels down and stretch it out I can. I really like the wider foot bed. IDK what i think about the MDC's ive seen them, there pretty pricey not sure I think im going to get that much benefit out of the turn feature.
                  good luck! -- we should start a support group on facebook for all of us wrecked ankled riders! LOL


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks shoponee! I actually don't have an air brace, never had one. I went straight from giant walking boot, to giant ankle brace that couldn't hope to fit into any pair of shoes I happen to own! Lol.

                    I have tried the figure 8 brace from mueller, but I didn't feel it provided me any sort of support like I needed. I also have the lace-up type that you mentioned, again, it just doesn't give me what I need and I find it horribly uncomfortable. I guess I should also mention, I have crazy nerve damage and some parts of my leg are numb, other parts (mostly my foot), are hyper sensitive. So finding a comfortable brace for that leg has been a challenge, especially when it comes to wearing them in shoes.

                    I will certainly look into those irons as well, I'm not sure I've seen them before. It's actually the achilles stretching properties of riding that my surgeon and pain doctor really appreciate. It kills later, but since I have problems with a contracting achilles, the stretching like that, is what keeps me walking.

                    What are "dangles" stirrup pads? I've never heard of them.


                    • Original Poster

                      I asked my pain doctor today about the braces you posted Red Mares... she said it wouldn't work for me because the metal in my joint is preventing my leg from being in a "neutral" position, so the brace would likely make it less comfortable.... Bummer... I had hoped that would help...

                      I'll keep looking.

                      In the meantime, I did talk to MDC and they confirmed that they do offer a trial policy for their stirrups, so I may have to try those out and see if they're any better than my cheapies.