Prevalence and impact of chronic musculoskeletal ankle disorders in the community

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Oct;93(10):1801-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.04.023. Epub 2012 May 7.


Objective: To determine the point prevalence of chronic musculoskeletal ankle disorders in the community.

Design: Cross-sectional stratified (metropolitan vs regional) random sample.

Setting: General community.

Participants: Population-based computer-aided telephone survey of people (N=2078) aged 18 to 65 years in New South Wales, Australia. Of those contacted, 751 participants provided data.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Point prevalence for no history of ankle injury or chronic ankle problems (no ankle problems), history of ankle injury without residual problems, and chronic ankle disorders. Chronic musculoskeletal ankle disorders due to ankle sprain, fracture, arthritis, or other disorder compared by chi-square test for the presence of pain, weakness, giving way, swelling and instability, activity limitation, and health care use in the past year.

Results: There were 231 (30.8%) participants with no ankle problems, 342 (45.5%) with a history of ankle injury but no chronic problems, and 178 (23.7%) with chronic ankle disorders. The major component of chronic ankle disorders was musculoskeletal disorders (n=147, 19.6% of the total sample), most of which were due to ankle injury (n=117, 15.6% of the total). There was no difference among the arthritis, fracture, sprain, and other groups in the prevalence of the specific complaints, or health care use. Significantly more participants with arthritis had to limit activity than in the sprain group (Chi-square test, P=.035).

Conclusions: Chronic musculoskeletal ankle disorders affected almost 20% of the Australian community. The majority were due to a previous ankle injury, and most people had to limit or change their physical activity because of the ankle disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ankle Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Ankle Injuries / physiopathology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Prevalence