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Ankle injury may have longer term impact on health

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A US study suggests that people who suffer an ankle injury may face a greater risk of long term health problems.

The research was presented at the recent annual meeting of the National Athletic Trainers´ Association in Baltimore. It showed that that people with an ankle break or sprain tended to have higher rates of disability, heart or respiratory issues and arthritis in the future.

According to HealthDay, the study does not prove cause-and-effect, but it points to the importance of proper rehabilitation after such injuries.

“What is concerning is these differences are presenting across the life span — especially during the critical middle age years when our risk for these diseases begins to increase,” commented study author Phillip Gribble, an associate professor in the department of rehabilitation sciences at the University of Kentucky.

Gribble´s team conducted an online survey of over 3,500 adults, of whom more than 1,800 had sustained an ankle injury at some point in their lives.

These respondents were more likely to say they were “somewhat” to “completely” limited in their daily activities compared to people without such histories, at 46% vs. 36%. They also had a higher rate of moderate to severe body pain (38% vs. about 27%).

People who had injured their ankle also had higher rates of heart or respiratory ailments (about 31% vs. 24.5%).

And, not surprisingly, arthritis of the ankle was much more likely among those who had previously injured the joint (9.4%) compared to those who hadn´t (1.8%).

The findings suggest that ankle breaks and strains should be taken more seriously to ensure proper healing and rehabilitation, the researchers said.

“This is not just a problem for athletes, as a large percentage of the population reports chronic ankle issues,” Gribble explained. “Better efforts are needed to prevent the initial injuries, and also to introduce improved interventions post-injury, to reduce the high rate of chronicity we see in ankle injury patients.”