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Treatment of an ankle sprain in children

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An ankle sprain involves the excessive stretching of one or several ligaments that are connected to the ankle bones. Ligaments are stretchable bands that connect to bones that function in joint movements. It is a common injury in children. The ankle can twist by playing sports such as running, jumping or falling on the foot in a strange way and result to injury. The ankle can be twisted inwards or outwards and there is mild swelling of the affected area.

Symptoms of an ankle sprain

  • Mild to severe pain
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Limited movement of the ankle
  • Swelling and bruising around the area of the front and side of the ankle which can be sign of internal bleeding

    Swelling and bruising around the area of the front and side of the ankle which can be sign of internal bleeding.


  • Let the child rest especially on the first 24 hours the affected ankle. Avoid performing activities and playing sports to prevent further damage and worsen the condition.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected ankle for at least 15-20 minutes at 3-5 times every day on the first 24-72 hours. Remove the pack and wait for 1 ½ hours before reapplying again. A cold compress lessens the swelling by numbing the nerve endings and reduces the pain.
  • Apply a compression bandage on an ankle sprain using an elastic bandage. Start wrapping at the bottom of the toe to prevent swelling in the area. After the front and back area of foot is totally covered, continue wrapping until the top of the ankle and make a figure 8 wrap. The heel and toes should be exposed. Secure the wrap using a metal clasp. Avoid wrapping the affected area too tight to prevent problems with circulation.
  • Elevate the affected area above the level of the heart to lessen swelling. Raise the affected area in couple of pillows for proper flow of blood in the area and fast healing of the condition.
  • Give the child the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol or acetaminophen to lessen the swelling and pain. The dose for this medication is based on the weight of the child.
  • Let the child wear support bandages or a cast to lessen the swelling and prevent further damage to the ankle. Use crutches if there is difficulty in walking and until the child can bear weight without causing pain.

Additional measures

  • Avoid massaging or placing unnecessary pressure on the affected area to prevent increased swelling.
  • Seek the help of a physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to stretch and strengthen the damaged ligaments, muscles and tendons. Complete the ankle rehabilitation program before returning to sports to prevent re-injury of the affected area.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on an ankle sprain is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage sprains by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

FACT CHECK–conditions/sprained-ankle/

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