What is the prevalence of ankle sprains?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019
  • Author: Craig C Young, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Most ankle sprains are probably self-treated and are never reported to a health care provider; therefore, many ankle sprains are not documented. Sprained ankles have been estimated to constitute up to 30% of injuries seen in sports medicine clinics and are the most frequently seen musculoskeletal injury seen by primary care providers. [19] More than 23,000 people per day in the United States, including athletes and nonathletes, require medical care for ankle sprains. Stated another way, incident cases have been estimated at 1 case per 10,000 persons per day. [20] A U.S. Army study found that ankle sprains are the most common foot and ankle injury in active-duty Army personal with a rate of 103 sprains per 1000 persons per year. [21]

Female athletes are 25% more likely to sustain ankle injuries than male athletes. Female basketball players are at a higher risk of a first-time inversion injury than those participating in other sports. [22] Soccer and volleyball are other leading causes of ankle sprains in high school and college female athletes. [23, 24] Some studies attribute a higher incidence of ankle injuries in high school football, basketball, and soccer players. [23, 25, 26] Other studies conclude that in college men, the risk of suffering an ankle sprain appears to be similar with basketball, soccer, and football. [22]

A cohort study analyzed risk factors in ankle injuries from the Cadet Illness and Injury Tracking System (CIITS) database at the United States Military Academy (USMA) from 2005-2009. The results found higher risk of syndesmotic ankle sprains in males who performed at a higher level of athletic competition; male athletes were 3 times more likely to experience medial ankle sprains than female athletes. [15]

Ankle injuries are very common, with ankle sprain being the most common injury. Most individuals have complete recovery; however, a substantial number have chronic problems that usually lead to modification of physical activity. [27]

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