Short-term Immobilization versus Functional Treatment of Severe Ankle Sprains: A Critically Appraised Topic

  • Aric Warren Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM)
  • Antonio Davis
  • Tesha Kraszkiewicz


Purpose: Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries in sports and medical care. Ankle sprains are graded (1 to 3) based upon their severity, and are currently treated one of three ways: (1) surgical treatment, (2) immobilization (conservative treatment) and (3) functional conservative treatment. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the best available evidence to answer the clinical question “Does short-term immobilization for a severe ankle sprain provide better functional outcomes compared to conventional functional treatment?”  Method: A computerized search was conducted on a number of databases using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria.  The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) Scale was utilized to assess the effectiveness of the interventions utilized within the studies included within this critically appraised topic (CAT).  Results: Four studies (two randomized control trial studies, and two systematic reviews) met the inclusion criteria for analysis. There is strong evidence (Level 2) that supports that short-term immobilization shows to be more effective in recovery and provides better functional outcomes compared to functional treatment for individuals that suffer from severe ankle sprains.  Conclusions:  There is Grade A evidence to support that short-term immobilization does provide better functional outcomes compared to functional treatment in the management of severe (Grade 3) lateral ankle sprains. 

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