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Am J Sports Med. 2007 Jul;35(7):1197-207. Epub 2007 May 22.

Syndesmotic ankle sprains in athletes.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Ankle sprains are among the most common athletic injuries and represent a significant source of persistent pain and disability. Despite the high incidence of ankle sprains in athletes, syndesmosis injuries have historically been underdiagnosed, and assessment in terms of severity and optimal treatment has not been determined. More recently, a heightened awareness in sports medicine has resulted in more frequent diagnoses of syndesmosis injuries. However, there is a low level of evidence and a paucity of literature on this topic compared with lateral ankle sprains. As a result, no clear guidelines are available to help the clinician assess the severity of injury, choose an imaging modality to visualize the injury, make a decision in terms of operative versus nonoperative treatment, or decide when the athlete may return to play. Increased knowledge and understanding of these injuries by clinicians and researchers are essential to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of this significant condition. This review will discuss the anatomy, mechanism of injury, diagnosis, and treatment of syndesmosis sprains of the ankle while identifying controversies in management and topics for future research.

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