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The Best Walking Boot for a Sprained Ankle

The Best Walking Boot for a Sprained Ankle

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. One of the most helpful pieces of equipment needed after a severe ankle sprain is a walking boot. However, be ready for a unpleasant surprise! After seeing the doctor and being prescribed a walking boot, walk across the street to the medical clinical and WHAM! Your jaw drops, hits the reception counter and loosens 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!

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What is a Walking Boot?

A walking boot, or a Controlled Ankle Motion (CAM) Boot is a an 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 semi normal walking pattern.

This is better that 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 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?

If you have suffered a sprained ankle then that means that you have stretched or possible 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 with grade 1 sprains, the Calcaneal Fibular Ligament (CFL) and the ATFL are injured in a grade 2. Finally, in a grade 3 ligament sprain the CFL, ATFL, and the Posterior Talofibular Ligament are injured. All of the ligament sprains may benefit from wearing a CAM boot. For grade 2 and grade 3 ankle sprain it is so beneficial to heal quickly.

ligaments of the ankle

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

Grade 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. 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.

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

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

Click on image for more information

Mars Wellness Premium Tall Air Cam Walker Fracture Ankle

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 to order a correct size

Click on image for more information

Elite Ortho Cam Boot

The Elite Ortho CAM boot offers a great value at ~ $40, 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

Click on image for more information

Ovation CAM Boot

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

Click on image for more information

Other Products that might make your life easier using a walking boot:

Shoe Lift for other Leg

This shoe lift with help reduce back, hip, and knee pain on the other leg when using the boot. The walking boot often increases the leg length on the injured side. If you have a back pain already then this is a great option.

Knee Scooter

The knee scooter takes away the point of a walking boot a bit, as this does not promote weight bearing. However, if you just have to get to work and still have too much pain to walk on the ankle even with a walking boot then this is the go to scooter.

Ankle Ice Pack and Compression

An ankle ice and compression wrap to help with pain reduction, help with swelling, and speed up the healing process. 

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

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.