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Osteoarthritis in the ankle joint occurs when time and use, or traumatic damage, causes the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones to become thinner, rougher, and more brittle. Eventually a point is reached where the bone ends are not fully protected and they begin to rub against each other. As the osteoarthritis progresses the joint becomes less mobile and more painful. Treatments range from lace-up ankle braces to complete immobilization and joint offloading with a custom Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO).
The orthoses designs are varied with the ultimate goal of improved function and pain relief. This can be achieved through restricting the painful range of motion and in extreme cases completely immobilizing the ankle joint.