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Musculoskeletal problems are an increasing healthcare issue. They have a vast impact on work capacity and general health. We hope that this edition stimulates thought and debate on this topic. Although musculoskeletal medicine may not be as “sexy as SARS”, these injuries will have an impact on the health of almost everyone at some time in their life, and for most emergency physicians 10 times a shift. Ankle injuries alone account for over 5000 consultations per day in the UK. Paradoxically even though they arrive in large numbers, research into musculoskeletal medicine is difficult. Part of the reason is that there is huge variability in defining the extent of the injury, in the patient, and in treatment.
An “ankle sprain” is a good example of this variability. The exact definition of the injury is often imprecise, covering a spectrum of damage from a minor self limiting tear of a few fibres to a complete rupture of all three parts of the lateral ligament complex. We should always try to gauge the magnitude of the injury but this is difficult …
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