You want to protect your child as a parent, but accidents can happen no matter how careful you are. Sprained ankles are common injuries among children. If you suspect your child has sprained their ankle, our expert Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center team can help.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of sprained ankles
Ankles have ligaments to prevent excessive movement. An ankle sprain results from those ligaments tearing or stretching too far.
Signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
- Swelling around the ankle joint
- Pain when placing weight on the injured ankle
- Difficulty or pain when walking
- Bruising or discoloration
- Limited range of motion
There is often an audible popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs.
Immediate first aid for ankle sprains
If you think your child sprained their ankle, take immediate action to minimize swelling and relieve pain using the RICE method:
Have your child stop physical activity and avoid putting weight on the injured ankle.
Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours within the first 24 hours after the injury. Cover the ice pack in a cloth.
Wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage to provide gentle compression that supports the joint and reduces swelling.
Have your child prop their leg on a pillow while resting to reduce swelling.
If the injury seems severe or has not improved after 24 hours, bring your child to Nevada Orthopedic for an examination.
Bring your child to the doctor
You should have your child’s ankle examined if you suspect a sprain. Our Fast Track Clinic offers same-day appointments for acute injuries. Our compassionate team of orthopedic specialists can evaluate the severity of the sprain, perform diagnostic testing, and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.
If your child’s injury is severe, we may recommend one or more imaging scans. Common imaging tests for ankle injuries include:
- X-ray to produce images of the ankle bones
- CT scans to view 3-D images or cross-sectional views of the bone joints
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to view ligaments and soft internal structures
- Ultrasound to view the condition of the ligament or tendon in different positions
Imaging scans rule out or confirm a broken bone and give our team a more detailed view so we can assess the severity of ligament damage.
Ankle sprain treatment
The treatment for a sprained ankle will depend on the severity of the injury. Your child’s customized ankle sprain treatment plan may include a brace, cast, or walking boot to immobilize the ankle and promote healing.
Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications manage inflammation and pain during healing.
How to prevent future injuries
Once your child's sprained ankle has healed, taking preventive measures and reducing the risk of future injuries is crucial. Our team provides guidance on proper warm-up exercises, stretching techniques, and footwear choices to help prevent ankle sprains and ensure a safe return to physical activities.
If your child has suffered an ankle injury, our Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center team is here to help. Call us today or schedule an appointment online at our Henderson or Las Vegas, Nevada, office.