Therapeutic ultrasound for acute ankle sprains

NICE Quality and Productivity Case Studies
Queen's University Belfast
Publication date:
31 January 2013



NICE summary of Cochrane review conclusions

Ultrasound has been used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal disorders including acute ankle sprains. Evidence shows that it does not seem to enhance recovery, help reduce the symptoms of pain and swelling, or improve the ability to stand on the affected foot and ankle. Given the limited clinical impact of treatment effects and short-term nature of acute ankle sprains, therapeutic ultrasound should not be routinely used for this condition.

The ‘Implications for practice’ section of the Cochrane review stated:

‘There are still only a few trials evaluating the effectiveness of ultrasound therapy for acute ankle sprains. The evidence from the 5 placebo-controlled trials included in this review does not support the wide use of ultrasound in the treatment of acute ankle sprains. The potential treatment effects of ultrasound appear to be generally small and probably of limited clinical importance, especially in the context of the usually short-term recovery period for these injuries. Due to the limited amount of information on treatment parameters, no conclusions can be made regarding an optimal and adequate dosage schedule for ultrasound therapy or whether such a schedule would improve on the reported effectiveness of ultrasound for ankle sprains.’