Joint Preservation Blog

December 24, 2008

Sports Ankle Brace

Several years ago I injured my ankle while running. It didn’t completely heal, so as a physician, I set out to find the perfect sports ankle brace. My first stop was the then famous “air cast”. This was a great way to stop the circulation in my ankle, but did little to help the pain and swelling. The next sports ankle brace I tried was the old fashioned lace-up models. They were a nightmare to get on and off, but did supply some stability. After trying 10-12 braces, I finally settled on something that worked, the Bauerfeind Malleoloc.  This was an easy sports ankle brace to get on and off and actually provided some stability. Alas, after walking around with this thing for years, I finally decided to get the ligaments fixed using prolotherapy. This worked reasonably well and took a few injections. Today there are even newer ways to fix these ligaments with the injection of stem cells. The video below will provide more information:

December 23, 2008

ACL Laxity and Knee Braces

ACL Laxity and Knee Braces.  The ACL is the inner duct tape (otherwise known as a ligament) that holds the knee together in a front-back direction.  This means that it prevents the lower shin bone (tibia) from moving forward on the thigh bone (femur). This ligament can be stretched or torn completely.  In these cases the joint is said to be “lax” and in need of either surgical repair, non-surgical repair, or knee bracing.  Bracing a knee with ACL Laxity involves stabilizing the femur and tibia in a front-back direction. However, there are pros and cons.   One of the problems is that bracing still allows some movement, which ultimately injuries the joint.  Up until now, there has been no way to repair a stretch injury to the ACL without surgery. However, the development of injection based therapy for partial ACL tears and laxity has been a big advancement beyond surgical grafts.  As an example, the Regenexx procedurenow allows doctors to inject the patient’s own stem cells onto the stretched ACL ligament and tighten that ligament back to it’s normal strength and length.  This development allows the patient to get rid of the brace all together.  Since there is no surgery needed, the recovery is much quicker and bracing is only used for a few weeks after the procedure if the laxity is severe.  This newer technique doesn’t work when there is no ACL left, but only if there are ACL fibers that can still be detected on MRI.  

As a physician who treats patients with these injuries, the best brace is the one that fits well.  For general fitting and measuring instructions, click here. Also, I often advise my patients to consider getting a slightly used brace.  Ebay can be a great place to to find a knee brace that will help with ACL laxity.

Below is a short video on the topic of repairing ligament tears by injecting your own stem cells.  While this shows an ankle ligament example, this could just as easily be a partial ACL tear.

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