August 4, 2020

Manual Therapy and Supervised Exercise For Ankle Sprains


Imagine Physical Therapy

Read Time

5 Minutes

Ankle Sprains and Treatment

Ankle sprains commonly occur when running, walking on uneven ground, or jumping. Sprains are most common in sports activities. Usually, people are told to rest, elevate the foot, apply ice, and use an elastic wrap to reduce swelling. This treatment is typically followed by exercise that can be performed at home. Although the pain and swelling usually improves quickly, more than 70% of people who sprain their ankle continue to have problems with them. In fact, up to 80% will sprain their ankle again. This suggests that it is important to better care for ankle sprains. One option is manual therapy, where the therapist moves the ankle and surrounding joints to help restore normal joint movement. A research report published in the July 2013 issue of JOSPT examines and compares the outcome of a home exercise program with a more involved treatment program that includes manual therapy and supervised exercise.

New Insights

In this study, researchers treated 74 patients. Half of the patients received a typical home exercise program. The other patients received a combined manual therapy and supervised exercise program. The patients that received a combined manual therapy and supervised exercise program experienced about a 70% reduction in pain at 4 weeks and more than a 92% reduction in pain at 6 months (100% is full function). By contrast, patients who received the home exercise program only had a 39% reduction in pain in 4 weeks and an 80% reduction at 6 months. For those in the manual therapy and supervision exercise program, the ability to perform daily activities improved from 66% at the initial exam to 87% at 4 weeks and 97% at 9 months. Meanwhile, those doing just the home exercise program only saw improved function to 73% at 4 weeks and 88% at 6 months. The researchers found that a combination of manual therapy and supervised exercise program was superior to a home exercise program alone in the treatment of ankle sprains because the combined program provides better pain relief and improved functions.

Practical Advice

Patients who have sprained their ankle will benefit from a physical therapy program that includes manual therapy and a supervised exercise routine. Potential benefits are less pain and improved ability to perform daily activities and return to sports. Your physical therapist can perform a thorough evaluation to help determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment. This program will get you back to full activity after an ankle sprain. 

For all of your physical therapy questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment, contact our team at Imagine Physical Therapy today!