Background: Ankle sprains are common sporting injuries generally believed to be benign and self limiting. However, some studies report a significant proportion of patients with ankle sprains having persistent symptoms for months or even years.
Aims: To determine the proportion of patients presenting to an Australian sports medicine clinic who had long term symptoms after a sports related inversion ankle sprain.
Methods: Consecutive patients referred to the NSW Institute of Sports Medicine from August 1999 to August 2002 with inversion ankle sprain were included. Exclusion criteria were fracture, ankle surgery, or concurrent lower limb problems. A control group, matched for age and sex, was recruited from patients attending the clinic for upper limb injuries in the same time period. Current ankle symptoms, ankle related disability, and current health status were ascertained through a structured telephone interview.
Results: Nineteen patients and matched controls were recruited and interviewed. The mean age in the ankle group was 20 (range 13–28). Twelve patients (63%) were male. Average follow up was 29 months. Only five (26%) ankle injured patients had recovered fully, with no pain, swelling, giving way, or weakness at follow up. None of the control group reported these symptoms (p<0.0001). Assessments of quality of life using short form-36 questionnaires (SF36) revealed a difference in the general health subscale between the two groups, favouring the control arm (p<0.05). There were no significant differences in the other SF36 subscales between the two groups.
Conclusion: Most patients who sustained an inversion ankle injury at sport and who were subsequently referred to a sports medicine clinic had persistent symptoms for at least two years after their injury. This reinforces the importance of prevention and early effective treatment.
- ankle sprain
- inversion injury
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Competing interests: none declared