A clinical review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association advises physicians to err on the side of caution when diagnosing foot and ankle injuries, as misdiagnosis can lead to poor long-term outcomes such as arthritis and disability.

The review outlines subtleties that complicate identification and treatment of six common foot and ankle injuries: snowboarder’s fracture (lateral talar process fractures), os trigonum injuries, Lisfranc injuries, turf toe, navicular stress fractures, and syndesmotic injuries.

In the review, the authors suggest that clinicians be suspicious and obtain additional imaging or a second opinion from an orthopedic surgeon to confirm the initial diagnosis.

“These types of trauma are a clinically significant source of morbidity and long-term disability among patients, not just those who are elite athletes. In many cases, the clinical symptoms are vague and tough to detect with standard imaging,” says lead author Jessica Reissig, DO, of the Department of Orthopedics at Plainview Hospital in New York, in a media release from the American Osteopathic Association.

Untreated snowboarder’s fractures, Lisfranc injuries, and turf toe have a high correlation to future arthritis, as well as the potential for severe pain and disability years after the injury. Improper treatment of other foot and ankle traumas can result in compensation injuries and other issues including tendinitis and recurrent ankle sprains, Reissig notes in the release.

“As an osteopathic physician, I view treatment of foot and ankle injuries as acute and preventative care because a mismanaged injury leads to so many future problems for patients,” she adds.

[Source(s): American Osteopathic Association, PR Newswire