Background: Lateral ankle sprains can lead to persistent disability in athletes. The authors studied the effect of a lateral ankle sprain on reinjury occurrence in the same region.
Hypothesis: There will be no difference in reinjury rate between low-grade (grades I and II) and high-grade (IIIA and IIIB) acute lateral ankle sprains.
Study design: Cohort study (prognosis); Level of evidence, 1.
Methods: From 1996 to 2004, the authors managed 202 elite Greek track and field athletes for an acute lateral ankle sprain. Sprains were classified into 4 degrees (I, II, IIIA, and IIIB). The same rehabilitation protocol was prescribed for all the athletes. The rate of a lateral ankle reinjury was recorded in the 24 months following injury.
Results: At a follow-up of 24 months, 36 of 202 athletes (17.8%) experienced a second lateral ankle sprain. Of the 79 athletes with a grade I injury, 11 (14%) experienced a recurrence during the study period. Of the 81 athletes with a grade II injury, 23 (29%) experienced a recurrence during the study period. Of the 36 athletes with a grade IIIA injury, 2 (5.6%) experienced a recurrence during the study period. Of the 6 athletes with a grade IIIB injury, none experienced a recurrence during the study period.
Conclusion: Athletes with a grade I or II lateral ankle sprain are at higher risk of experiencing a reinjury. Low-grade acute lateral ankle sprains result in a higher risk of reinjury than high-grade acute lateral ankle sprains.