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Ankle sprains and avulsion fractures in children

Patient information A-Z

What is an ankle sprain?

A soft tissue injury to the ankle is more commonly known as an ankle sprain. This means the ligaments and/ or tendons in your child’s foot have been stretched and bruised. Your child’s ankle and foot may look very swollen and they may have some bruising going up the ankle and down to their toes

What is an avulsion fracture?

Sometimes a small piece/ flake of bone may be pulled off where the ligament attaches to the bone. These are minor fractures and will not need a plaster cast. Your child may be given a special boot to wear for up to six weeks.

Ankle sprain x-ray and a special boot for ankle injury
ankle sprains and avulsion fractures in children

Avulsion fractures are treated in the same way as a sprain.

These fractures may take several weeks to heal, but sometimes your child may have some pain and swelling for three to six months.

Swelling and bruising at the injury/fracture site is normal. Simple over the counter pain relief, such as Calpol and Nurofen should be given (if tolerated). Resting with the foot raised on a pillow to drain the swelling away from the foot and applying ice to the ankle will help to reduce swelling and pain. The ice should be wrapped in a damp cloth and applied to the swollen area for 20 minutes, three to four times a day.

You should:

  • Give your child pain relief as needed to help keep pain levels under control.
  • Use ice and raise their ankle up on a pillow to bring the swelling down.
  • Encourage them to wear the special boot as recommended. This can be removed at night for sleeping, having a bath or if they are sitting down with their foot raised up.
  • Encourage your child to walk in the special boot as their pain allows them.
  • Encourage your child to wiggle their toes and make circles with their foot to help stop the ankle from getting stiff.

Your child should not:

Take part in any sports which may hurt their ankle more. The nurse in the clinic will tell you when they can start sports again.

Please remember:

Contact your GP if your condition is not improving, or if your pain relief is not adequate. If your condition is worsening please contact the multi professional fracture clinic, call 01223 348299 or call 01223 257095.

For more information please visit Fracture information website (opens in a new tab)

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151