Context: High-voltage pulsed current (HVPC), a form of electrical stimulation, is known to curb edema formation in laboratory animals and is commonly applied for ankle sprains, but the clinical effects remain undocumented.
Objective: To determine whether, as an adjunct to routine acute and subacute care, subsensory HVPC applied nearly continuously for the first 72 h after lateral ankle sprains affected time lost to injury.
Design: Multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Data were collected at 9 colleges and universities and 1 professional training site.
Participants: 50 intercollegiate and professional athletes.
Interventions: Near-continuous live or placebo HVPC for 72 h postinjury in addition to routine acute and subacute care.
Main outcome measure: Time lost to injury measured from time of injury until declared fit to play.
Results: Overall, time lost to injury was not different between treated and control groups (P = .55). However, grade of injury was a significant factor. Time lost to injury after grade I lateral ankle sprains was greater for athletes receiving live HVPC than for those receiving placebo HVPC (P = .049), but no differences were found between groups for grade II sprains (P = .079).
Conclusions: Application of subsensory HVPC had no clinically meaningful effect on return to play after lateral ankle sprain.