Springfield physical therapists describe the findings of recent study that shows how effective exercises and therapy can be for ankle sprains

Here at ARS Hand & Physical Therapy, we understand that when it comes to deciding what type of treatment to seek out, there are many options available. However, based on our own experience within the clinic and the research that continues to be performed, we firmly believe that physical and occupational therapy is the best possible course of action for most injuries and painful conditions. To help patients better understand the advantages of therapy, our physical and occupational therapists try to bring you some examples of studies that highlight its many benefits.

This month, we’d like to discuss a recent study that evaluates the use of different types of exercises and a hands-on technique for patients with ankle sprains.

One ankle sprain can lead to long-term problems

Ankle sprains are the most common injury among people who are physically active. In addition to the initial pain and disability that these injuries lead to, up to 40% of patients who sprain their ankle once will go on to develop a condition called chronic ankle instability. Individuals with chronic ankle instability tend to experience continual pain and soreness, and a sensation that the ankle is “giving way.” As a result, they are more likely to sprain their ankle again, which can lead to serious long-term issues.

Patients who have chronic ankle instability therefore require effective treatments to help manage their condition and reduce their chances of experiencing additional ankle sprains. Two strategies used by physical therapists for treating these patients are manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. Manual therapy consists of different types of mobilizations being applied to the patient’s ankle by the therapist, while therapeutic exercises involve various types of exercises designed to improve balance and increase strength. Both of these treatments have been found to lead to benefits, but it’s not completely clear what effect they have when used together. Therefore, a very powerful study called a randomized-controlled trial was conducted.

In the study, 56 patients with chronic ankle instability were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. Both groups followed an exercise program, which took place during 16 sessions over four weeks, and had patients perform six different exercises that were meant to improve the balance and strength of their ankles. In addition, one group also attended manual therapy sessions over the four weeks, in which a therapist applied a series of mobilizations to patients’ ankles to make it easier for them to move it. All patients were evaluated before the treatments, immediately after, and one month later.

Results showed that while all patients improved, the group that was treated with both therapeutic exercises and manual therapy reported greater overall benefits than the other group. This was found to be the case based on lower levels of pain, a higher threshold for pain, less ankle instability and greater strength of the ankle muscles in the group that received both treatments. These findings show that although specific exercises can be helpful on their own, the addition of manual therapy as provided by a physical therapist can help patients improve to an even greater extent. As a result, patients who follow this type of treatment program may reduce their risk of spraining their ankle again in the future.

Visit our physical therapists here in Springfield, NJ

If you sprained your ankle at any point in the past and are still dealing with the repercussions, a course of physical therapy is your best bet to address it. Our physical therapists deal with lots of patients with chronic ankle instability and all other types of ankle problems, and we can prescribe you a customized program designed to improve your function and prevent future sprains. Contact ARS Hand & Physical Therapy in Springfield, NJ at 973-379-7006 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on chronic ankle instability.

To read the abstract (summary) of the study, click here.