Background: Chronic ankle instability (CAI) is a term used to identify certain insufficiencies of the ankle joint complex following an acute ankle injury. Acute ankle injuries are often associated with sporting mishaps; however, this review was the first to identify the aspects of CAI (perceived instability, mechanical instability and recurrent sprain), and persisting symptoms following an ankle sprain, that have been reported within sporting cohorts.
Objective: To determine the presence of common aspects of CAI within individual sports.
Methods: A systematic search of the MEDLINE, Web of Science, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus and AMED databases up until 1 October, 2013 produced 88 studies appropriate for review. A calculated weighted percentage of the outcome data allowed the comparison of figures across a range of sports.
Results: Soccer, basketball and volleyball were the most represented sports and recurrent ankle injury/sprain was the most reported aspect of CAI. Soccer had the highest percentage of participants with recurrent sprain (61%) and mechanical instability (38%), whilst track and field had the highest percentage of participants with perceived instability (41%). Gymnasts had the highest percentage of ankles with persisting symptoms following an initial ankle sprain.
Conclusion: This review was the first to assess aspects of CAI within sporting cohorts and has identified limitations to the research reporting these data. The problem of CAI across a range of sports remains unclear and thus advocates the need for further controlled research in the area to ascertain the true extent of CAI within sporting populations.