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Clinical Trials Update
January 24/31, 2017

Physiotherapy Offers No Benefit in Treating Ankle Sprains

JAMA. 2017;317(4):351. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.20780

Physiotherapy after a simple acute ankle sprain does not hasten functional recovery when compared with basic self-management, according to a large Canadian randomized controlled trial. But while the 2 groups showed little clinical difference, fewer than half of all study participants reported excellent recovery 3 months after injury, suggesting the need for more effective interventions, according to the authors.

The study included 503 adults with ankle sprains that were grade 1 (mechanically stable) or grade 2 (some joint laxity) who came to either of 2 hospitals’ emergency departments. The patients were randomly assigned to as many as 7 half-hour supervised physiotherapy sessions along with usual sprain care (assessment and instructions on basic management of the injury at home), or to a group that received usual care (written instructions on rest, ice, compression, elevation, and gradual weight-bearing activities). Patients assessed their recovery with the foot and ankle outcome score (FAOS). Excellent recovery was defined as a score of at least 450 of a possible 500 at 3 months.