People who suffered an ankle sprain while playing youth sports had more pain and symptoms 3-15 years later, including poor function, reduced sport participation, poor balance, and fear of pain, when compared to uninjured participants, according to the results of a recent study published in Foot & Ankle International, the official journal of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS).

“Ankle sprain is the most common injury in youth sport and recreation. An ankle sprain is often perceived as a ‘simple’ injury that should not raise any concerns, but our study shows it may result in mid- and long-term negative health consequences.”

— Oluwatoyosi Owoeye, PhD, PT, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at Saint Louis University, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre at the University of Calgary, and senior author of the study

Study Highlights

Researchers recruited a total of 86 participants for the study. The group was 77% female with an average age of 23. Of the total participants, 50 had sprained their ankle within a median of 8 years, while the other 36 were uninjured control participants of similar age, sex, and sport exposure. The research team collected data through self-reported Foot and Ankle Outcome Scores, measures of body mass index, and tests to gauge physical activity, athletic identity, fear of pain, strength, balance, and function.

At 3-15 years following the ankle sprain injury, the injured participants had significantly worse symptoms by about 21% and poorer ankle-related quality of life by 16%, when compared to controls.

Owoeye notes that the differences between the injured and control groups are substantial, and more research is needed.

“Little is currently known about the prevention of post-ankle sprain health problems, so this study is very helpful in advancing this field of inquiry. Our future goal is to probe this further and develop secondary prevention strategies to lessen the long-term consequences of ankle sprains.”

To protect young athletes from ankle sprains, Owoeye recommends adopting neuromuscular training programs (structured warmup exercise programs) to prevent ankle sprains from happening in the first place as well as pre-sport taping and bracing to prevent ankle sprains from reoccurring.

[Source(s): American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, GlobeNewswire]