What Are Ankle Foot Orthotics? | AFO | Ankle Foot Orthotic Brace AFO stands for Ankle Foot Orthotic. An AFO is a brace used to help the lower leg and foot function in an improved way. Some of the more common reasons for using an AFO are drop foot, severe flat foot with posterior tibial tendonitis, arthritis or any other major foot deformity. AFO’s are typically custom made by a podiatrist or prosthetist. After a proper diagnosis of the lower extremity problem has been made then an impression is taken of the foot and lower leg usually with a fiberglass sock in a partially weight bearing position. Next the fiberglass impression and the doctor’s prescription are sent to an orthotic lab where the AFO is manufactured.
Fitting sessions are very important for the patient to learn how to apply the AFO not only to the leg but also into the shoe. A slow break-in period is always recommended.
The shoe tends to be the biggest challenge with the usage of AFO’s. The standard shoe that you find at your local shoe store usually does not have adequate room to fit the AFO. The shoe typically needs to be slightly wider but most importantly, deeper. There are shoes that are specifically made with extra room from top to bottom in a shoe. These are referred to as “added-depth” or “extra-depth” shoes. These type of shoes are sold on Healthyfeetstore.com. It is also important that the shoe provides excellent support and comfort.
AFO’s are an effective tool at reducing pain in the foot and ankle however finding the correct shoe that fits the AFO can be a challenge. It is worth spending the time to educate yourself on the specific types of shoes that will accommodate AFO’s.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hurless
DPM, FACFAS Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon/Podiatrist
Medical Director, HealthyFeetStore.com