Content » Vol 40, Issue 6

Original report

Manual therapy in addition to physiotherapy does not improve clinical or economic outcomes after ankle fracture

Chung-Wei Christine Lin, Anne M Mosley, Marion Haas, Kathryn M Refshauge, Robert D Herbert
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0187


Objective: The primary aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of adding manual therapy to a physiotherapy programme for ankle fracture.
Design: Assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial.
Participants: Ninety-four adults were recruited within one week of cast removal for isolated ankle fracture. Inclusion criteria were: they were able to weight-bear as tolerated or partial weight-bear, were referred for physiotherapy, and experienced pain. Ninety-one participants completed the study.
Methods: Participants were randomly allocated to receive manual therapy (anterior-posterior joint mobilization over the talus) plus a standard physiotherapy programme (experimental), or the standard physiotherapy programme only (control). They were assessed by a blinded assessor at baseline, and at 4, 12 and 24 weeks. The main outcomes were activity limitation and quality of life. Information on costs and healthcare utilization was collected every 4 weeks up to 24 weeks.
Results: There were no clinically worthwhile differences in activity limitation or quality of life between groups at any time-point. There was also no between-group difference in quality-adjusted life-years, but the experimental group incurred higher out-of-pocket costs (mean between-group difference = AU$200, 95% confidence interval 26–432).
Conclusion: When provided in addition to a physiotherapy programme, manual therapy did not enhance outcome in adults after ankle fracture.

Lay Abstract


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