Objective To summarise the effectiveness of adding supervised exercises to conventional treatment compared with conventional treatment alone in patients with acute lateral ankle sprains.
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cinahl, and reference screening.
Study selection Included studies were randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised controlled trials, or clinical trials. Patients were adolescents or adults with an acute lateral ankle sprain. The treatment options were conventional treatment alone or conventional treatment combined with supervised exercises. Two reviewers independently assessed the risk of bias, and one reviewer extracted data. Because of clinical heterogeneity we analysed the data using a best evidence synthesis. Follow-up was classified as short term (up to two weeks), intermediate (two weeks to three months), and long term (more than three months).
Results 11 studies were included. There was limited to moderate evidence to suggest that the addition of supervised exercises to conventional treatment leads to faster and better recovery and a faster return to sport at short term follow-up than conventional treatment alone. In specific populations (athletes, soldiers, and patients with severe injuries) this evidence was restricted to a faster return to work and sport only. There was no strong evidence of effectiveness for any of the outcome measures. Most of the included studies had a high risk of bias, with few having adequate statistical power to detect clinically relevant differences.
Conclusion Additional supervised exercises compared with conventional treatment alone have some benefit for recovery and return to sport in patients with ankle sprain, though the evidence is limited or moderate and many studies are subject to bias.