A new clinical review conducted by orthopedic surgeons has discovered that misdiagnosis of common foot and ankle injuries often leads to poor long-term patient outcomes, such as arthritis and disability. Six of the most often misdiagnosed injuries are snowboarder’s fractures, os trigonum injuries, Lisfranc injuries, turf toe, navicular stress fractures, and syndesmotic injuries.
The study urges doctors to order additional imaging and obtain second opinions when diagnosing these issues, as an incorrect diagnosis could lead to future complications.
Over 3 million visits to the emergency room are common foot and ankle injuries in the United States alone, and the study’s authors have expressed how some of these untreated conditions could lead to chronic issues later on in life. If properly diagnosed, these injuries are easily treated through the use of rest, medication, ice, immobilization, and in some cases, surgery.
Dr. Adam Bitterman explained, “Once the diagnosis is confirmed, in many cases patients can be offered a range of treatment options from conservative to surgical. Choosing the best treatment for the individual can prevent the injury from decreasing the patient’s future quality of life.”
Lead author of the study, Dr. Jessica Reissig, commented on the severity of the implications associated with a misdiagnosed foot or ankle injury, stating “These types of trauma are a clinically significant source of morbidity and long-term disability among patients, not just those who are elite athletes.” If left untreated, Lisfranc fractures, turf toe, and snowboarder’s fractures have a high correlation to the future development of arthritis, as well as severe pain and even disability that may occur years after the injury is sustained. Misdiagnosis and the resulting improper treatment of other foot and ankle injuries may also lead to compensation injuries, tendinitis, and recurring ankle sprains.
The results of this study show that future development of arthritis and disabilities involving the foot and ankle may be prevented by a more thorough diagnostic process and the correct treatment of commonly occurring injuries.