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Sprained Ankle

The Best Walking Boot for a Sprained Ankle

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in America. Depending on the severity, it can cause pain and limitation from as little as a few days to as long as 6 months.

a Person spraining their ankleOne of the most helpful pieces of equipment needed after a severe ankle sprain is a walking boot. However, be ready for an unpleasant surprise! After seeing the doctor and being prescribed a walking boot, walk across the street to the medical clinic, and WHAM! Your jaw drops hit the reception counter and loosen that fake tooth no one knew you had. The cost can often be shocking!

As a healthcare provider, it can be frustrating to see someone spend 100$-300$ for a walking boot from the medical clinic when they can get a quality boot online for around 50$!! Most walking boots are needed from 1-6 weeks depending on the injury and severity. That means you could be a new walking boot each week online and still be the same cost from the durable medical clinic. That’s crazy!

Name Picture Price Best Feature Our rating Best Price
United Ortho Air Cam Walker Boot $ One of the best walking boots on the market 9.7/10 See Current Price
Mars Wellness Walking Boot $ One of the most natural walking patterns 9.5/10 See Current Price
Elite Orthopedics Walking Boot $ Lightweight and easy to secure 9.4/10 See Current Price
Ovation Air Cam Walking Boot $ Easy Pump and different color sole options 9.4/10 See Current Price

What is a Walking Boot?

A walking boot or a Controlled Ankle Motion (CAM) Boot is orthopedic medical footwear used in severe sprains, fractures, and other foot injuries. A CAM boot is designed to help stabilize the foot, decrease pain, and reduced stress on the ligaments on the foot and ankle. This allows us to walk on the injured foot with less pain and a semi-normal walking pattern.

Using a CAM boot is better than using crutches for several reasons including delaying quad and upper leg atrophy, reducing stress on the other leg, reducing force through the low back by using both legs equally, and reducing the risk of blood clots by using the calf muscles for walking and pumping blood through the leg.

A CAM boot usually consist of:

  • A soft inner liner that acts as a cushion for the foot and ankle
  • A hard sturdy frame to limit motion of the foot
  • A hard plastic shell that allow for weight bearing yet protection of the foot
  • A system of velcro or string closure system to fit and adjust to different leg sizes
  • Most of the braces are washing machine friendly with their inner lining

What is an Ankle Sprain?

The Best Walking Boot for Ankle InjuriesIf you have suffered a sprained ankle then that means that you have stretched or possiblyy torn a ligament in the ankle.

The mechanism of injury is often landing on a foot that then rolls inward which is followed by immediate pain and difficulty with bearing weight.

The ankle may become swollen later that day or the next evening. The severity of the ankle sprain is often determined by which ligaments are involved and come in 3 grades.

The Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL) is often injured with grade 1 sprains, the Calcaneal Fibular Ligament (CFL) and the ATFL are injured in a grade 2 sprain. Finally, in a grade 3 ligament sprain the CFL, ATFL, and the Posterior Talofibular Ligament are injured. All of the ligaments sprained may benefit from wearing a CAM boot. For grade 2 and grade 3 ankle sprains it is a great way to heal quickly and still be able to walk.

Grade 1 Ankle Sprain (Mild):

  • Mild stretching of or microscopic tearing of the ligament on the outside ankle – ATFL ligament is most commonly affected
  • Mild swelling and discomfort with weight-bearing
  • Usually heals quickly (2-3 weeks) with ice and rest

ligaments of the ankleGrade 2 Ankle Sprain (Moderate):

  • Mild/mod swelling with increased pain during weight-bearing
  • May walk with a limp
  • Partial tearing of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle – ATFL and CFL ligaments most commonly impacted
  • May experience increased laxity during movement and feeling of giving out early on
  • Takes a little bit longer to heal with a general time frame of 4-8 weeks
  • May need to wear a CAM boot for walking

Grade 3 Ankle Sprain (Severe):  

  • Considerable tenderness, swelling, bruising, and pain
  • May not be able to bear weight for the first week or two and may need to use crutches
  • Moderate/complete tearing of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle – ATFL, CFL, and PTFL are all impacted
  • Much longer time to heal with a general timeline of 6-12 weeks depending on several factors
  • May have long term deficits
  • Greatest lost of balance and stability when standing
  • May need to wear a CAM boot for walking

Why Walking Boots are Helpful for a Sprained Ankle?

A walking boot will help a sprained ankle because it allows for you to walk, stand, and put pressure on the injured ankle in a safe position.

Healing – The CAM boot maintains the foot in neutral which allows for those injured ligaments to heal in the anatomic position.

Compression – The compression of the CAM boot is relatively minor, but the amount that is present helps with swelling and comforts the nervous system. The compression also helps keep swelling from getting out of control.

Early Weight Bearing – The importance of early weight-bearing cannot be emphasized enough. Using a walking boot allows for weight-bearing immediately after surgery. This prevents muscles from deteriorating in the thigh, calf and hips. It also helps prevent blood clots by increasing movement and blood flow.

Loss of Money – The use of a walking boot may allow you to go back to work sooner and prevent loss of wages and loss of vacation time.

FAQ About Walking Boots

Do You Need to Wear a Walking Boot After Surgery?

If you have ankle or foot surgery then you will most likely need to wear a CAM boot. It may not be until 1-2 weeks after surgery to let the swelling down, however, most patients will have to wear a walking boot after foot surgery for up to 6 weeks.

How Long Do You Need to Wear a Walking Boot After a Sprain Ankle?

Most people have to wear a walking boot or 2-6 weeks after an ankle sprain. This depends on the severity of the sprain but you should be able to walk without a limp and without a noticeable change in the swelling of the ankle before discontinuing using the walking boot.

Picture of an orthopedic walking boot

Can You Wash a Walking Boot?

You can take the liners out of the walking boot and wash them in the laundry. We recommend only air drying the liner. The hard plastic shell can be cleaned with any normal household cleaner.

Should You Wear Socks with a Walking Boot?

We recommend wearing a sock for a couple of reasons including keeping the toes warm, keeping the toes clean, protecting against scrapes and abrasions, and reducing sweat build-up in the CAM boot liner. It is not a requirement to wear socks if you prefer not to.

Do You Need to Wear the CAM Boot When You Are Sitting?

No, if you are in a non-weight bearing position such as at a desk then you can take the boot off and move the foot around. The only issue is it is then tempting to walk short distances without putting the boot back on which is not recommended.

Will a Walking Boot Help With Plantar Fasciitis?

Yes, patients with stubborn or severe cases of Plantar Fasciitis are given a CAM boot to wear for 6 weeks. This allows you to walk without stressing the Plantar Fascia. Not everyone with Plantar Fasciitis should use a walking boot.

Best CAM Boots for Ankle Sprain

The majority of walking boots for a sprained ankle should full length boots. They should go most of the way up the shin to help support the bones and muscles that cross and form the ankle joint. Here are the best walking boots on Amazon:

United Surgical Air Cam Boot

Summary: One of our favorite CAM boots due to the quality of material, low price, and durability. This boot has over 900 reviews demonstrating the high quality. The United Surgical Boot has a medial/lateral air cells system providing compression and support. It also comes with a steel reinforcement, yet remains lightweight, and has a rocker bottom designed to help promote a natural step.

PROS:

  • Full length for great ankle support
  • Soft durable material
  • Easy rocker for walking
  • Air cell technology for support
  • Great customer service and reviews

CONS:

  • None at this time

United Cam Surgical Walking Boot

Click on the image for more information

Mars Wellness Cam Walking Boot

Summary: The Mars Wellness Cam Boot is another great walking boot that is full length to provide stability to ankle injuries. This comes with a quick release air system to easily adjust for swelling patterns throughout the day. This boot is durable, easy to use, and easy on the joints to walk in.

PROS:

  • Full length boot
  • Great Durability
  • Easy sole for walking normal

CONS:

  • None, make sure to order a correct size

Mars Wellness Walking Boot

Click on the image for more information

Elite Ortho Cam Walking Boot

Summary: The Elite Ortho CAM boot offers a great value, remember most medical boots come at more than $300. Inflatable air bladder to add compression and support, low profile sole to make walking easy, and lightweight durable construction. Great reviews on this product already.

PROS:

  • Little less expensive
  • Easy walking sole
  • Lightweight and durable

CONS:

  • Doctor might be mad you are saving so much money and not buying his products

Elite Orthopedics Walking Boot

Click on the image for more information

Ovation Cam Walking Boot

Summary: The Ovation CAM boot is a little different in that it can come in different color options. This boot is ultra-lightweight and claims to be the lightest on the market. Rocker bottom to walk easier, easy air cell inflation for compression and stability. 

PROS:

  • Lightest boot on the market
  • Air cell
  • Rocker bottom
  • Colored soles

CONS:

  • None at this time, don’t wear in the snow

Ovation Cam Walking Boot

Click on the image for more information

In Review

One of the best ways to save money after a severe ankle sprain or ankle fracture is to buy your own walking boot. Buying your own boot without going through insurance can save money, reduce hassle, and improve your ankle.

Works Referenced

  1. Sagittal Subtalar and Talocrural Joint Assessment During Ambulation With Controlled Ankle Movement (CAM) Boots – https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1071100717723129
  2. Walking Boot Design: A Gait Analysis Study – https://www.healio.com/orthopedics/journals/ortho/1999-5-22-5/%7B5923b1fb-c16c-4741-82fa-8cbf2f28a36b%7D/walking-boot-design-a-gait-analysis-study
  3. Tendon Injuries in Dance – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278591907001093

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