Physio plan no better for ankle sprain

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A programme of physiotherapy provides no more clinically important benefits for patients with simple ankle sprains than basic self management at home, a study published by The BMJ has shown.1

In a large randomised controlled trial to evaluate the benefits of physiotherapy for ankle sprains, researchers randomly assigned 503 patients aged 16-79, presenting from 2009 to 2013 with mild or moderate ankle sprain injuries at two hospitals in Kingston, Canada, to a control group receiving usual care or to a group receiving usual care plus physiotherapy.

Usual care consisted of medical assessment and a written information sheet for patients on basic management of the injury at home. These instructions focused on ankle protection, rest, ice, a compression bandage, elevation, painkillers, graduated weight bearing activities, and expected recovery. The physiotherapy group also received a maximum of seven 30 minute therapy sessions along with usual care. Patients completed a questionnaire assessing recovery at one, three, and six months.

The results showed that more than half of patients had achieved excellent recovery by six months, and little difference was seen in outcomes between the two groups. A total of 57% (118/208) of those who had received physiotherapy as well as usual care achieved an excellent outcome by six months, compared with 62% (120/...