In this study we reviewed ankle sprains in a professional football team over a 6 year period. Fifteen players who sustained syndesmotic ankle sprains were compared with 28 players who sustained significant lateral ankle sprains. Players with syndesmotic sprains missed significantly more games and practices and they received substantially more treatments than players with lateral ankle sprains. Physical examination findings, results of radiographic evaluations, and etiologic factors are discussed. The external rotation stress test, a clinical method for diagnosis of this type of sprain at the time of injury, is described. Results of this study clearly demonstrate a prolonged recovery time for syndesmotic ankle sprains. Physicians and trainers who are aware of this injury can differentially diagnose these two types of sprains in the early postinjury period by the method described.



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