Sprained ankles are a common injury in children. Sprains occur when there is a sudden movement or twist that moves the ankle from its normal position. When forced out of position, the ankle’s ligaments stretch or tear.

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What are the signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle?

  • Pain and tenderness (mild, moderate or severe)
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Bruising
  • Limited range of motion
  • Inability to put weight on the ankle
  • Popping sound at the time of injury

What causes a sprained ankle?

A sprain occurs when a sudden movement forces the ankle out of position. Some ways this can happen include:

  • Foot or ankle rolling
  • Falls causing the ankle to twist
  • Landing awkwardly on the foot after jumping or pivoting
  • Walking or exercising on an uneven surface

How is a sprained ankle diagnosed?

  • Physical exam
  • Imaging if necessary:
    • X-rays
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan
    • Ultrasound

How is a sprained ankle treated?

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s injury. Non-surgical options to treat an ankle sprain include:

  • I.C.E. – Rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Activity modification or restriction
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., ibuprofen)
  • Pain-relief medication (e.g., acetaminophen)
  • Physical therapy
  • Brace or wrap
  • Crutches if needed

Surgery for an ankle sprain is rare and is only necessary to treat severe cases. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s can determine the right plan to treat your child’s sprained ankl