Pressure pain sensitivity over nerve trunk areas and physical performance in amateur male soccer players with and without chronic ankle instability

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Objective: Chronic ankle instability (CAI) is reported after ankle sprain. Our aim was to assess differences in mechanical pain sensitivity of lower extremity nerve trunks and physical performance between amateur soccer players with and without CAI. Design: A cross-sectional case-control study. Setting: Amateur soccer teams. Participants: Fifty-five male soccer players, 28 with and 27 without CAI participated. Main outcome measures: The perceived instability was assessed with the Cumberland Ankle Instability Tool (CAIT). Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) on the common peroneal and tibialis nerve trunks, vertical jump, lateral step-down test and joint position sense of the knee were assessed by a blinded assessor. Results: Soccer players with CAI showed lower PPTs over the common peroneal nerve than those without CAI (between-groups mean difference: 1.0 ± 0.8 kg/cm2, P < 0.001). No differences for PPT over the tibialis posterior (P = 0.078) or any physical performance outcome (knee joint positioning sense [P = 0.798], lateral step-down test [P = 0.580] and vertical jump variables [all, P > 0.310]) were found. PPT over the common peroneal nerve exhibited a significant moderate correlation with the CAIT score (r = 0.528, P < 0.001). Conclusion: Amateur soccer players with CAI have higher pressure pain sensitivity over the common peroneal nerve but exhibit similar physical performance to amateur soccer players without CAI.

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