If your child has chronic ankle instability, or rolls their ankle, it is caused by the repetitive “giving out” of the outside of the ankle. This occurs after repeatedly spraining the same ankle over time and not letting the sprains heal properly.
About 20% of ankle sprains lead to chronic ankle instability. Each time your child sprains their ankle, the ligaments and tendons in the foot and ankle weaken and stretch. This injury can happen in any sport, but it is most common in sports that involve jumping, running, and quick-cutting movements such as volleyball, soccer, basketball and football. Some other factors that can contribute to ankle sprains are uneven playing surfaces and ill-fitting shoes.
When your child sprains their ankle, they may feel a “popping” sensation along the outside of their ankle and notice immediate pain and swelling. Use the P.R.I.C.E. method (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) and administer over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or other NSAIDs to try and limit the amount of swelling and pain.
After repeated ankle sprains, the swelling can take longer to go away and bruising can occur. Once the swelling goes down, your child should take it slow when getting back to sports and other activities to prevent future injury. Ankle sprains can affect balance, running ability and other sport-specific skills if not treated properly.
Wearing ankle braces can help reduce risk and add support for those who have had multiple ankle sprains. Performing ankle exercises like ankle pumps, toe raises and ankle band exercises can build strength. Making sure your child stretches before and after activities to keep their muscles loose is also important in limiting their risk of injury.
It is important for your child to give their body time to rest and heal from injury. If there is prolonged swelling, bruising, or it is too painful to walk, it is time to seek help from sports medicine professionals.
Nationwide Children’s Sports Medicine can help with any concerns regarding chronic ankle pain, instability, and how to keep your children active and healthy. If you would like to call or schedule an appointment you can reach us at (614) 355-6000 or request an appointment with us on our website.
Sarah Tracey is an Outreach Athletic Trainer for Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine and is the Head Athletic Trainer at West Jefferson High School. She graduated from West Virginia University in 2017 and Marshall University in 2019 with her Masters in Athletic Training.
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