What are National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) guidelines for treating and preventing ankle sprains in athletes?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019
  • Author: Craig C Young, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) issued guidelines for treating and preventing ankle sprains in athletes, including recommendations for the early use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) post injury, functional rehabilitation rather than immobilization for grade I and II ankle sprains, and prophylactic ankle supports for athletes with a history of previous ankle sprains. [40, 41] Immobilization with a rigid stirrup brace or below-knee cast is recommended for grade III sprains for at least 10 days, followed by controlled therapeutic exercise. Other recommendations include the following [40, 41] :

  • To prevent injury, institute a 3-month or longer balance and neuromuscular control program for athletes, especially for those at higher risk

  • To reduce reinjury rates, institute balance training throughout rehabilitation and follow-up management of ankle sprains

  • During rehabilitation, include comprehensive range-of-motion, flexibility, and strengthening exercises of the surrounding musculature

  • Before returning the patient to sport-specific tasks, ensure the injured limb's functional performance measures at least 80% of the uninjured limb

  • Note that the diagnostic accuracy of special tests (eg, anterior drawer test, inversion talar tilt test) is greater 5 days after injury than 2 days after injury

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