THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay
News) -- People with severe
ankle sprains recover faster with a short period of immobilization in a
below-the-knee cast or an Aircast brace than with the use of either a tubular
compression bandage or a Bledsoe boot, according to a U.K. study.
Along with receiving one of the four types of joint support, 584 people
with severe ankle sprains were given advice on reducing swelling and pain.
After three months, those who wore a cast for 10 days showed 9 percent more
ankle function improvement than people who had been treated with the bandage,
along with more improvement in pain, symptoms and activity.
People who had worn the Aircast brace showed 8 percent more improvement
than the bandage group, but there was little difference in pain, symptoms and
activity. The Bledsoe boot offered no advantage over the bandage, the study
The findings were published in this week's issue of The
The most commonly used treatments for severe ankle sprain are ice,
elevation, tubular compression bandages and advice to exercise. Complete
immobilization is discouraged, according to the study authors, who said their
findings challenge that approach.
"Contrary to popular clinical opinion, a period of immobilization was
the most effective strategy for promoting rapid recovery," Professor
Sarah Lamb, of the University
of Warwick, and her colleagues said in a journal
news release. "This was achieved by the application of a
below-knee cast. The Aircast brace was a suitable alternative to below-knee
casts. Results for the Bledsoe boot were disappointing, especially in view of
the substantial additional cost of this device. Tubular compression, which is
currently the most commonly used of all the supports investigated, was,
consistently, the worst treatment."
The authors recommended use of a cast for 10 days or the brace and
discouraged use of bandages or the boot.
Academy of Family Physicians has more about ankle
SOURCE: The Lancet,
news release, Feb. 12, 2009