Ankle Sprains Up Arthritis Risk

Published Online: Friday, April 1, 2005

During the recent American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society meeting, researchers presented data that showed ankle sprains increase the risk of osteoarthritis in the joint. The study proved that recurrent ankle sprains or ankle instability alone—without fracture—can cause arthritis, an issue that has long been debated. The findings were based on 268 patients with ankle arthritis.

Of the participants, 221 (82.5%) had a past fracture and 47 (17.5%) had previous ankle instability with recurrent sprains but no fractures. The researchers discovered that it took longer for arthritis to develop in the patients with sprains, compared with those with fractures—specifically, 22.5 years for the sprain group and 21 years for the fracture group. Researcher Victor Valderrabano, MD, said arthritis may be a result of an ankle sprain because of lingering instability and more pressure at the surface of the joint. The researchers concluded that rigorous rehabilitation is necessary after chronic ankle instability or strains to prevent the joint disease.

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