Ankle Instability and Sprains
Our orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists offer a full range of non-invasive treatments for ankle problems, including rehab with our in-house physical therapists.
Also known as a twisted ankle, ankle sprains occur when the joint’s ligaments stretch or tear. The ankle is the most commonly sprained joint, and most ankle sprains happen on the outside (lateral side) of the joint.
Ankle sprains usually get better with rest and exercises that strengthen the ligaments. But frequent ankle rolls or sprains during sports or other everyday activities may indicate that your child has chronic ankle instability.
When an ankle sprain doesn’t get better, we may recommend surgery to repair the ankle ligaments. Our surgeons specialize in a minimally invasive approach.
Symptoms of Ankle Instability and Sprains
Signs and symptoms of ankle instability and sprains vary from child to child. Your child’s symptoms may include:
- Warmth or redness
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty putting weight on the injured ankle
Diagnosing Ankle Instability and Sprains
Most ankle injuries are diagnosed with a physical examination and a review of your child’s medical history. Test may also help determine the problem. Diagnostic tests may include:
- X-ray: Uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to take detailed images of the bones of the ankle
- CT (computed tomography) scan: Uses X-rays to make detailed images of the ankle joint
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan: Uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take detailed pictures of the shoulder joint, checking for tears in the ligaments, tendons and cartilage
Treating Ankle Instability and Sprains
Our expert orthopedic physicians can often treat ankle instability and sprains without surgery. Treatment options for your child’s ankle injury are based on the severity of the injury and your child’s age and medical history.
Potential ankle treatments include:
- Rest, ice, compression and elevation
- Activity modification
- Bandaging, splinting or casting
- Crutches or wheelchair
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Sometimes, children with chronic ankle instability may require minimally invasive surgery to repair torn ligaments. Learn more about arthroscopy.
Ankle Instability and Sprains Resources
Learn more about ankle instability and sprains in children:
KidsHealth®: Ankle Sprains
Ankle Instability and Sprains FAQs
If I suspect my child has a sprained ankle, when should we see a physician?
If your child’s ankle swelling doesn’t go down after a week of rest, ice, compression and elevation, we recommend making an appointment with a pediatric orthopedic physician. Also, if your child is repeatedly “rolling” the ankle and experiencing mild sprains on a regular basis, you should see a physician to determine if your child has chronic ankle instability. Chronic instability may require rehab or possibly surgery.