Picture this: you get a call from the teacher at school, or you glance across the playground and find your little one down and crying. You learn that your child has 'rolled' his or her ankle, having twisted a foot when jumping off the monkey bars, or landing wrong at the end of a steep, fast slide.

Or let's say your little athlete was running down the soccer field, and took a tumble, leaving his ankle swollen and tender. Seeing the twisting motion, you might assume your child has a sprained ankle. But, as it turns out, you're probably wrong. 

How Can I Tell if My Child's Ankle is Sprained?  

The truth is that children rarely sprain their ankles.  That's because a child's anatomy is very different from that of a grownup. This means that, when a child's ankle is twisted, his or her growth plate, located on the fibula, sustains damage before the tendons are affected.  

Why? For kids, the weakest point of their ankles is the growth plates. For adults, by contrast, the weakest part of the ankle is the series of ligaments that run alongside its exterior edge.  And, when the ankle comes under attack, the weakest link is the most vulnerable. That's why twisting motions typically leave adults with sprains, but impact children in the form of growth plate fractures!

Warning Signs that Your Child's Ankle is Seriously Injured 

All too often, we tell our children to walk off an injury. Bumped your toe? "You're ok, buddy!" Banged into another child while running along?  Wipe away the tears and get back out there. Sometimes, however, it's crucial to pay attention to your children's complaints. If you notice any of the following after your son or daughter has twisted an ankle, it's important to see your Elmhurst podiatrist as soon as possible: 

  • They are unable to walk on the foot
  • They are limping for more than a day
  • There is swelling or bruising
  • They can't (or have trouble) moving the ankle

Any one of these symptoms could be a sign that your child has actually fractured his or her growth plate. And the only way to truly determine the nature of the injury is to get that ankle x-rayed and professionally examined.  After all, growth plate injuries are serious business. If your child's gets damaged and isn't treated properly, the injury could lead to abnormal growth and development in your child's bone or bones. And that's not something your child can--or should--attempt to walk off! 


Jordana White
Jordana Rothstein White
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