Contrast Therapy and Heat Therapy in Subacute Stage of Grade I and II Lateral Ankle Sprains

Foot Ankle Spec. 2016 Aug;9(4):307-23. doi: 10.1177/1938640016640885. Epub 2016 Apr 1.


Objective This study was conducted to determine the most effective thermal modality; heat or contrast therapy-in reducing pain, reducing swelling, and increasing range of movement (ROM) of the grade I and II lateral ankle sprain in the prechronic stage of the subacute phase. Design Randomized control trail. Methods One hundred and fifteen participants of both genders who were diagnosed as having grade I or II lateral ankle sprain were randomly assigned to the study on the fifth day of injury. Pain, volume, and ROM were recorded before and after treatment continuously for 3 days. Results Effects were evaluated as "Immediately after application" and "3 days after continuous application." Immediately after application, there was no difference between the 2 modalities on ankle ROM; heat reduced pain over contrast therapy, and both modalities increased swelling. When considering the effects after continuous application for 3 days, no difference was found between the 2 modalities on ROM and the reduction of pain. Contrast therapy reduced swelling while heat caused increased swelling even after 3 days. Conclusion The use of different thermal modalities during the transition from the acute to chronic phase of injury can be suggested as effective treatment options according to the objectives of injury management: pain reduction, improve ROM, and swelling management.

Levels of evidence: Therapeutic, Level II: Randomized clinical trial.

Keywords: ankle sprain; contrast therapy; heat therapy; subacute phase; thermal modality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / therapy*
  • Arthralgia / therapy
  • Cryotherapy*
  • Edema / etiology
  • Edema / therapy
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immersion
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sprains and Strains / classification
  • Sprains and Strains / therapy*
  • Visual Analog Scale
  • Young Adult