Your youngster limps home after a game, exercise, or the playground, complaining of ankle problems. This is a distinct possibility. The probability of Ankle injuries increases after the age of six, as youngsters begin to exercise and become more active.

Football, basketball, or even jumping from a moving swing on the court might result in an ankle sprain or fracture. Furthermore, continuous usage of particular muscles might result in unpleasant exhaustion. So, how can you tell the difference between a strain, a sprain, and a fracture?

According to foot and ankle physician Alan Davis, who also specializes in sports health, it is better for parents to assess if an injury requires medical care.

Common Ankle Injuries

The most common ankle injuries in children are:

Injury to the growth plate: Growth plates are cartilage regions at the ends of bones. They are the final section of a child’s bones to solidify, making them especially sensitive to damage in the developing skeleton.

Strains occur when muscles are overstretched or torn. Post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as fatigue or a failure to warm up adequately, might develop. It can also be caused by excessive usage.

Fractures are broken bones. The majority of sports-related ankle fractures occur when a person rolls or rolls their ankle over an uneven surface, such as stepping into a hole or on another player’s foot. A player may also be physically hit by another player or collide with an immovable item, such as a goalpost. It can occur when a player changes direction too rapidly or sharply, causing the ankle to spin unnaturally. In addition to injuries, continuous usage can result in stress fractures, which are fractured bones.

How do you differentiate between a broken or sprained ankle?

Ankle sprain while jogging

It is not always simple to determine whether an ankle has been fractured or sprained. The most visible signs are bruising, discomfort, and swelling, which are shared by all injuries. To provide an appropriate diagnosis, X-rays may be required.

However, there are various methods for determining if you have a fracture or sprain. Here are some things to think about:

If the ankle seems to be twisted or out of place, consult a doctor.

Is the pain in the bones or the soft tissues around the ankle? A fracture appears more likely if it is on the bone.

Was there a crackling sound when the damage occurred? This might be a sign of a fracture. Sprains might cause crackling noises or no sound at all.

A sprain is indicated if the discomfort appears to be worsening. An ankle fracture generally causes acute pain before developing numbness or tingling.

“Unless you know anatomy, it’s typically impossible to tell the difference between a sprain and a fracture,” Dr. Davis adds. “It is important for parents to understand how urgently the damage, if any, requires medical attention.”

When does your child need to see a doctor?

According to Dr. Davis, your child’s ankle injury needs a doctor’s attention if there is:

Significant swelling;

Bone imbalance.

Severe pain that does not resolve with rest.

Your baby can’t walk, move his ankle, or put weight on it.

There is a change in the color of your child’s skin (the ankles or feet turn blue).


Dr. Davis advises checking the foot for sprains even if your child reports ankle pain.

“These are symptoms of a severe illness that need rapid treatment,” Dr. Davis adds. “Your youngster may require a cast, brace, shoe, or both. Surgery may be required if there is severe injury or danger of harm to the growth plate.”

Ankle injuries that do not require medical attention

There’s no need to rush to the doctor if the pain isn’t severe, there’s a full range of ankle mobility, normal strength, feeling, and no misalignment, according to Dr. Davis.

First, use the RICE technique to treat the injury at home:

Convenience: Exactly what it sounds like. To avoid additional injury, keep your distance from the afflicted ankle.

To decrease swelling and relieve discomfort, apply a cold pack or an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) for up to 20 minutes. Repetition four to eight times each day.

Wrap an elastic bandage or compression wrap around the ankle to assist decrease swelling.

Elevation: To decrease swelling and pain, keep the ankle elevated by placing it on a cushion or other raised surface above the level of the heart.

“If symptoms get worse, call your doctor,” says Dr. Davis.

How to prevent an ankle injury

Preparing your child for the sport properly is the greatest approach to assist him or her prevent an ankle injury. It consists of flexibility, balance, and endurance.

Warm up before participating in sports.

Get plenty of rest.

Keep hydrated.

Preparing for training and games by eating appropriately.

Wearing the proper footwear, according to Dr. Davis, is also essential.

“Not all sneakers are made equal,” Dr. Davis explains. “The appropriate shoe will be determined by your child’s sport and its unique needs, as well as your child’s distinctive foot anatomy, such as arch height. An experienced expert should always choose shoes that are suited for the sport. Bring your youngster to a running shoe store where the specialists can help him or her get the right shoe.”

Wraps and braces, according to Dr. Davis, are typically unnecessary for young athletes who are adequately conditioned and have no past injuries.