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Ankle Swelling in the Summer?

Seasonality of Ankle Swelling
Population Symptom Reporting Using Google Trends

You might expect to see an increase in sprains, strains, and fractures in the winter when patients are navigating icy sidewalks and shoveling loads of snow. What problems cross our path more in summer?

In my practice, complaints of ankle swelling are more common in the summer and are usually brought to clinic by injury-free and otherwise healthy patients. We established this phenomenon in our 2016 publication, Seasonality of Ankle Swelling.

“Each summer we encounter an increased volume of patients complaining of ankle swelling—patients who do not go on to develop cardiovascular, venous, or lymphatic disease … we looked for seasonal modulation in the public’s interest in ankle swelling as measured by the volume of Google Internet searches related to ankle swelling.”

While clinicians can expect to see an increase of swelling related complaints in office, many such patients will not seek medical advice. Whereas Internet searches for ankle swelling (or related terms) are highest in the summer, hospital admission for heart failure exhibit the opposite trend and peak in the winter. So, rest assured, your patients are certainly not alone—and probably in good health.

About the author

Scott Garrison, MD PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta
Director, Pragmatic Trials Collaborative

Scott spent the first 20 years of his professional career as a full time fee-for-service family physician. He has a passion for evidence-based medicine and left full time clinical practice in 2013 intent on pursuing clinical trials that address important, as yet unaddressed, primary care questions. He is working to build a platform for large primary care trials in both BC and Alberta.

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