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Updated Guidelines for Ankle Sprains

Clinical guidelines are devised by experts in specific fields, to provide consensus and improve consistency within management protocols. The ankle lateral ligament sprain is one of the most common injuries seen in orthopedic practice, and as such, treatment guidelines need to be frequently updated based on the latest research findings. The 2013 clinical practice guidelines for ankle lateral ligament sprains were updated recently by the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association.

The main recommendations were:

– Prophylactic bracing may be recommended, even as a way to decrease risk of first-time ankle sprain.

In the acute stage of the injury, the ankle should be supported with bracing or taping, including a rigid brace for more severe injuries, but for no longer than 10 days.

– Icing may be beneficial but is no longer considered a first-line treatment

Early loading of the ankle should be encouraged.

– Prophylactic bracing should be combined with proprioceptive and balance-based exercises to prevent recurrent lateral ankle sprains (bracing should not be used as a standalone treatment). Therapeutic exercise should be commenced as soon as able.

– A brace should be used for early-phase return to sport/work to decrease delayed time to return.

Manual therapy should be utilized to decrease pain, restore mobility and normalise gait.

– There is conflicting evidence for electrotherapy and acupuncture. Electrotherapy should not be used.

– Psychological aspects of the injury should also be addressed.

It is important to note that these recommendations are general practice guidelines and individual management will be specific to each patient.

Ankle sprains are often considered like a cold, something that you will get over with a little rest. However for optimal outcomes and decreased likelihood of future injury, it is important that proper management plans are implemented.

If you have suffered an ankle sprain, contact us and let us help you get back to full fitness!

Martin, Robroy L., Todd E. Davenport, John J. Fraser, Jenna Sawdon-Bea, Christopher R. Carcia, Lindsay A. Carroll, Benjamin R. Kivlan, and Dominic Carreira. “Ankle Stability and Movement Coordination Impairments: Lateral Ankle Ligament Sprains Revision 2021: Clinical Practice Guidelines Linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health From the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 51, no. 4 (2021): CPG1-CPG80.

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