ankle sprainAnkle sprains are a very common injury, particularly among athletes and soldiers. Conventional treatment following acute ankle sprains usually consists of ice, immobilization, and a simple home exercise program. Dutch researchers performed a systematic review of the literature to determine if studies support the use of additional supervised exercises in patients with acute lateral ankle sprains. Additional exercises in theses studies included strengthening exercises with elastic resistance and balance board training.

Rogier van Rijn and his colleagues at the University Medical Center in Rotterdam published their review in the British Medical Journal.  They evaluated 11 published studies that compared conventional treatment alone to conventional treatment with additional exercises, some using Thera-Band® resistance bands.

The authors found moderate or limited evidence in favor of adding additional supervised exercises to conventional treatment compared with conventional treatment alone. Furthermore, they found moderate to limited evidence that additional exercises lead to an earlier return to work and sports. The relative risk was reported at .46, noting a slight effect in favor of additional exercises, which the authors suggested would be come significant if the studies were conducted with enough power in a larger population. The author’s “best evidence synthesis” noted high risk of bias and lack of power analysis in 10 of 11 studies.

While the authors suggest correctly that more high quality randomized controlled trials are needed, they concluded that additional exercises have some benefit compared to conventional treatment alone. Exercises with Thera-Band elastic resistance bands and balance boards may have additional benefits in rehabilitation of acute ankle sprains.

REFERENCE: van Rijn RM, et al. Effectiveness of additional supervised exercises compared with conventional treatment alone in patients with acute lateral ankle sprains: systematic review. BMJ. 2010 Oct 26;341:c5688. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5688.

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