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Acute ankle sprain

During sporting activities, such as volleyball, basketball, and dance, acute ankle sprains are very common. Data shows that around 80% of individuals will suffer an ankle sprain at some point in their lifetime, and it tends to affect more females than males. Children are most susceptible to ankle sprain than adolescents and adults, and this is down to immature coordination patterns and neuromuscular control.

Less than 15% of acute ankle sprains also encapsulate fracture, meaning that it is mainly affects soft tissue structures. Most ankle sprains affect the structures on the outside of the ankle, and are graded into degrees of injury.

A standardised management protocol is important so we know what the optimal treatment approaches are for successful recovery. Non-surgical treatment has been proposed to be most effective to manage acute ankle sprains, and functional treatment (an external device that supports the ankle) seems to be superior when compared to immobilisation. Moreover, paracetemol and opioids are as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in reducing pain. Manipulative and exercise therapy has shown to be beneficial during the initial recovery phase, with a focus on restoring ankle dorsiflexion to prevent re-injury and chronic joint instability.

As with many other injuries, a multi-modal approach to rehabilitation is often recommended so that the return to sport can be swift without compromising re-injury.

Gaddi, D. et al. (2022). Acute ankle sprain management: An umbrella review of systematic reviews. Front. Med. 9: 868474.

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