Casts 'are best' for ankle sprain

Immobilisation in a below-knee cast is the best treatment for severe ankle sprain, a UK study of 584 patients has suggested.

Treatment for ankle sprains is usually focused on ice, elevation and controlled movement. Immobilisation is discouraged.

Researchers compared below-knee casts with two other mechanical supports and with tubular compression bandages, currently the most commonly used support. Casts and supports were worn for 10 days.

At three months, patients given below-knee casts showed greatest improvement in ankle function, pain, symptoms and activity, the researchers said.

'Contrary to popular clinical opinion, a period of immobilisation was the most effective strategy for promoting rapid recovery,' they said. 'This was achieved best by the application of a below-knee cast.'

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