Most people have rolled an ankle in their lifetime. Usually, an ankle sprain heals without any consequence, but that isn’t always the case. According to the current research, a third or more of lateral ankle sprain patients may experience long-term problems like ankle instability that necessitates splinting or taping the ankle before engaging in sports or other weight-bearing physical activities. Can chiropractic care help reduce the risk of ankle instability and other chronic issues that can arise from a lateral ankle sprain?
In 2022, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from three studies that included 180 patients to assess the effectiveness of manual therapy and/or exercise in the management of lateral ankle sprains. The type of manual therapies used in the three studies included non-thrust mobilization, thrust manipulation, and myofascial release methods—all techniques utilized by chiropractors on a daily basis. The exercises focused on proprioception (balance oriented), stretching, and strengthening.
The research team observed that the combination of manual therapy and exercise is more effective than exercise alone in improving ankle ranges of motion, lower limb function, and pain, leading them to conclude that the addition of manual therapy to lateral ankle sprain treatment will improve clinical outcomes. In addition to reducing the risk for ankle instability, lateral ankle sprain patients who receive manual therapy may also have a lower risk for reduced thickness of the plantar fascia, reduced cross section size (atrophy) of the peroneus brevis muscle, and altered activation patterns of select lower limb muscles, which may significantly reduce their risk for reinjury. This can be very important for rugby, tennis, football, volleyball, and basketball athletes as ankle-related issues affect roughly half of participants in these sports.
Chiropractic colleges educate students on the application of manual therapies to the upper and lower extremities. Additionally, many post-graduate programs offer continuing education courses on the same topic. The next time you, a family member, or friend suffers an ankle sprain, be sure to consider chiropractic care.