Patients suffering from simple ankle sprains should not be encouraged to treat it with physiotherapy, but rather taught how to self-manage the injury at home reveals a study published by BMJ.
The research showed that physiotherapy given to patients with simple ankle sprains did not benefit recovery when compared to basic self-care.
Fewer than half of patients had not reached “excellent recovery” by six months after injury, and there was little clinical difference between those who had received physiotherapy and those with usual standard care.
Usual care consisted of medical assessment and a one page written summary of instruction for basic management of the injury at home. Recommendations focused on ankle protection, rest, ice, application of compression bandage, elevation, use of painkillers, graduated weight bearing activities and information about expected recovery. The physiotherapy group included a regime of up to seven 30-minute sessions, along with usual care.
Results show that 43% (90/208) of participants in the physiotherapy group and 38% (75/195) in the control group had not reached ‘excellent recovery’ by six months.
Experts say the finding is important because management of ankle sprains has substantial financial costs, and alternative treatments should be sought to help recovery.
The study, carried out by a team of Canadian researchers, is the largest randomised controlled trial to evaluate the benefits of physiotherapy for ankle sprains.
The study included 503 patients, aged 16-79 years, presenting with mild or moderate ankle sprain injuries to one of two hospitals in Kingston, Canada, between 2009 and 2013.