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Am Fam Physician. 1996 Oct;54(5):1609-18.

Evaluation and diagnosis of ankle injuries.

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Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fontana, California, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am Fam Physician 1997 Feb 15;55(3):788.


The evaluation of ankle injuries is a common challenge for family physicians. Diagnosis is made by using knowledge of the anatomy and function of the ankle joint to aid in taking an adequate history and performing an appropriate physical examination. The patient should be questioned about the mechanism of injury, previous injury, disability, treatment and pain. The ankle should be evaluated for ecchymosis, swelling, areas of tenderness and laxity. These measures help to determine what, if any, additional diagnostic procedures may be needed. Most ankle sprains are lateral, affecting the anterior talofibular, calcaneofibular and posterior talofibular ligaments. Other injuries include medial ankle sprains affecting the deltoid ligament, trauma to the Achilles and peroneal tendons, tarsal tunnel syndrome, fractures, syndesmotic sprains, synovial impingement and chronic instability. Criteria for radiographic evaluation include inability to bear weight initially or when examined, and tenderness over the medial or lateral malleolus. Accurate diagnosis is critical for appropriate treatment and minimizing functional disability.

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