Lateral ankle sprains occur frequently and can have negative effects for the athlete. Joint mobilisation/manipulation may reduce these outcomes. With this in mind, the authors set out to systematically summarise the effectiveness of manual joint techniques in treatment of lateral ankle sprains. Their review employed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. A computer-assisted literature search of MEDLINE, CINHAL, EMBASE, OVID and Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) (January 1966 to March 2013) was used with the following keywords alone and in combination ‘ankle’, ‘sprain’, ‘injuries’, ‘lateral’, ‘manual therapy’, and ‘joint mobilisation’. The methodological quality of individual studies was assessed using the PEDro scale. After screening of titles, abstracts and full articles, eight articles were kept retained for examination. Three articles achieved a score of 10 of 11 total points; one achieved a score of 9; two articles scored 8; one article scored a 7 and the remaining article scored a 5. Three articles examined joint techniques for acute sprains and the remainder examined subacute/chronic ankle sprains. Outcome measures included were pain level, ankle range of motion, swelling, functional score, stabilometry and gait parameters. Most of the articles only evaluated these outcome measures immediately following treatment. No detrimental effects from the joint techniques were revealed in any of the studies reviewed.
The authors concluded that when treating acute ankle sprains, manual joint mobilisation reduced pain and increased dorsiflexion range of motion. Applied to the treatment of subacute/chronic lateral ankle sprains, these techniques improved ankle range-of-motion, reduced pain and improved function.