X-rays, ultrasounds or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are often requested when we suffer an ankle or knee sporting injury, but new guidelines from Choosing Wisely Australia – facilitated by NPS MedicineWise – suggest we question the need for these tests. An X-ray is an important investigation if a fracture is suspected – but in most cases taking a history and examining the injured joint is all your doctor needs to do to diagnose the problem and recommend treatment.
Sporting injuries are among the most common causes of acute ankle and knee injury, with the incidence of these injuries highest in May to August. Over 290,000 Australians see a GP each year for an ankle or knee sprain or strain1. NPS MedicineWise is delivering an educational program to raise awareness of the latest ankle and knee imaging recommendations. View the video outlining two typical courses of action following a sporting injury.
Choosing Wisely Australia is part of a global movement that works with healthcare professionals and consumers to eliminate unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. As part of this work, recommendations on managing ankle injuries without imaging have been developed by peak bodies representing Australia’s physiotherapists, nurses and radiologists, and are promoted via Choosing Wisely Australia.
Unnecessary X-rays can be costly, time consuming and involve a slight health risk due to radiation exposure, while guidelines do not recommend ultrasound to investigate ankle sprains.
“Patients shouldn’t always expect to be referred for imaging when seeing their doctor about an ankle or knee injury,” says Dr. Andrew Boyden, NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser. “X-rays play a role when a fracture is suspected and your doctor is trained in determining whether or not an X-ray or further imaging is necessary.”
“In the case of most strains, imaging is unlikely to make any difference to management of the injury or the speed of recovery. Patients should be guided by their doctor’s advice about when they can return to normal activity.”
Media enquiries: Eve Hanks on 02 8217 9667 or if your call is urgent, 0419 618 365.
Dr Andrew Boyden is available for interview.
About NPS MedicineWise
NPS MedicineWise is an independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit organisation that works to improve the way health technologies, medicines and medical tests are prescribed and used so that people stay healthier and the cost of care remains affordable. NPS MedicineWise provides educational tools and resources on a range of topics and conditions for consumers and health professionals including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. NPS MedicineWise receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.
About Choosing Wisely Australia
Choosing Wisely Australia® is enabling clinicians, consumers and healthcare stakeholders to start important conversations about tests, treatments and procedures where evidence shows they provide no benefit and in some cases lead to harm. The campaign is being led by Australia's medical colleges and societies and is facilitated by NPS MedicineWise. Visit choosingwisely.org.au
Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We receive funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.
1 Flood L, Harrison J. Hospitalised sports injury, Australia 2002–03. Adelaide: AIHW, 2006