Active kids stay moving, so it’s not uncommon for them to experience a rolled ankle, especially during sports and playtime.
As a parent, knowing how to handle this common injury will ensure your child’s comfort and proper healing. Bookmark these tips to know what to do if your little one suffers a sprained ankle.
Assess the Severity
Step one: determine how bad is the injury? Did they feel a “popping” sensation along the outside of their ankle? Along with immediate pain and swelling, that can indicate a sprained ankle, but care may still be manageable at home.
If your child can put weight on the ankle and experiences minimal pain, it’s likely a mild sprain. However, if they’re unable to walk, or if there’s significant swelling and bruising, it might be more severe.
For mild sprains, follow the RICE method — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation — as your road map to recovery from an ankle injury.
Encourage your child to rest and avoid putting weight on the hurt ankle. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth to reduce swelling and discomfort. Use a compression bandage to provide support and elevate the ankle above heart level to reduce swelling.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate discomfort. Always follow the recommended dosage; download our ibuprofen and acetaminophen dosing guide here.
Seek Medical Attention
If your child experiences severe pain, significant swelling or is unable to walk, it’s essential to seek medical attention. A provider will assess the injury and recommend the appropriate treatment plan.
Rest and Gradual Return to Activity
Kids are resilient and may not want to take a break from active play. Encourage your child to rest their ankle to allow proper healing and full recovery.
Once the pain and swelling subside, slowly introduce gentle range-of-motion exercises to promote flexibility. Gradually reintroduce physical activity, starting with low-impact exercises. Use ankle support if necessary, and follow-up with your pediatrician.
Help prevent future ankle injuries by making sure your child wears appropriate footwear for activities and uses protective gear when playing sports. Proper warm-up exercises and stretches can also reduce the risk of sprains. An ankle brace can be helpful to reduce risk of further injury and provide support for those who have repeat sprains.
Knowing how to handle a rolled ankle in kids is essential. Accidents happen, but with your attentive care, your child will be back on their feet quickly.