If you suspect your child’s ankle pain comes from a broken ankle, you should take your child to one of our pediatric orthopedic Clinics at one of our four convenient DFW locations. At Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, we will quickly see your child.
If your child needs surgery or casting, our Fracture Care Clinic opens every day and you do not need an appointment. Surgery rooms get scheduled every morning, so your child receives the care and attention they need right away.
Ankle pain often indicates a broken ankle (a condition that can be referred to as a “fracture”). For instance, this means one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint are broken. Furthermore, a fractured bone can range from a simple break in one bone, which may not stop your child from walking to several fractures that force the ankle out of place and may require your child to avoid putting weight on it for a few months.
Simply put, the more bones that are broken, the more unstable the ankle becomes. Also, there may be ligaments damaged as well. The ligaments hold the bones and joints in position.
The ankle joint comprises three bones:
- Tibia – shinbone
- Fibula – smaller bone of the lower leg
- Talus – a small bone that sits between the heel bone (calcaneus) and the tibia and fibula
A tibia and fibula contain specific parts that make up the ankle:
- Medial malleolus – inside part of the tibia
- Posterior malleolus – the back part of the tibia
- Lateral malleolus – end of the fibula
Common Causes of Ankle Pain in Children
Ankle problems are not peculiar to only adults; they are also found in children. Consequently, children can experience different ankle problems while growing. Additionally, parents should ensure they seek the expert advice of one of our specialists to prevent their child from experiencing lower extremity problems in the future.
Highlighted below are some of the common causes of ankle problems in children:
Flat Feet and Fallen Arches
Some kids are born with flat feet. In this situation, a more normal arch may appear while they grow. However, there are lots of painful conditions that are connected to flat feet. They include Achilles tendonitis and issues with the plantar fascia.
If your child comes into the world with flat feet and experiences foot, leg, or lower back pain, they need to be examined in our office. Flat feet exert a huge amount of pressure on the joints in the ankles, thereby leading to pain in the ankle bone and joint problems later in life.
If your child’s ankle pain can link to his or her flat feet, we have many simple and effective treatments that we suggest. For example, they include changing the type of shoes they wear, custom and non-custom shoe inserts, and physical therapy (such as stretching exercises).
Plantar warts are a form of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), and ‘plantar’ refers to the bottom of the foot. The bottom of the foot has thick skin and this makes it difficult to treat warts found there. A virus can enter the skin through cracks and tiny cuts in the skin. The HPV thrives in warm and moist environments like pools, bathroom floors, and swimming areas. Also, plantar warts are highly contagious and can spread to other members of the family.
Since plantar warts are very deep in the tissue, freezing and the use of over-the-counter acids are not effective in treating the condition. The effective treatments that we suggest at Medical City Children’s Orthopedics and Spine Specialists include stronger topical acids, blistering agents, prescription-strength creams, and injections to improve the natural immune response of your child.
Outward and Inward-Pointing Toes
When a child begins to walk, their toes may either face in (in-toeing) or out (out-toeing). These conditions usually correct themselves over time without undergoing any treatment. However, you may need to treat some underlying issues that cause in-toeing or out-toeing. Treatments such as corrective shoes, splints, or night braces may be prescribed depending on the severity of your child’s condition. If you notice that your child has in-toeing or out-toeing, kindly call our office so that we can find its cause and suggest the appropriate treatment (if needed).
Sever’s disease is also known as calcaneal apophysitis. It is a painful bone disease that is caused when trauma takes place on the growth plate of the heel bone (calcaneus). This condition occurs in physically active children, during the adolescent spurt, and between 8 and 13 years (for girls) and 10 and 15 years (for boys).
The pain associated with sever’s disease occurs as a result of the increased pressure exerted on the growth plate secondary to inflexible and tight surrounding soft tissue, muscle, and tendons (especially the Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius muscle). This can lead to tenderness, swelling, and pain while walking barefoot, running, and jumping.
The team of specialists at the Medical City Children’s Orthopedics and Spine Specialists can identify the mechanical and structural deficits that cause ankle pain in children. We will also will provide you and your child with effective exercises, self-mobilization methods, and symptom management techniques that will get rid of the pains in your child’s ankle bones.
Symptoms of Ankle Pain
Because a severe ankle sprain can feel the same as if it were broken, every ankle injury should be evaluated by a pediatric orthopedic physician. Both feet and ankle bones and growth plates can become affected by an injury. Our doctors specialize in the treatment of children to properly diagnose the injury. Common symptoms for a broken ankle include:
- Immediate and severe pain
- Tender to touch
- Inability to put weight on the injured foot
- Looks “out of place,” particularly when dislocated
If you suspect your child has either a sprain or fractured ankle, visit one of our Fracture Care Clinics at one of our four convenient locations. At Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, we are open daily, and patients don’t need to make an appointment.
After discussing your medical history, symptoms, and how the injury occurred, one of our board-certified pediatric physicians will carefully examine your child’s ankle, foot, and lower leg. If one of our doctors suspects a fracture, an X-ray exam will confirm if the ankle fracture requires surgery. This will also help your doctor determine the involvement or injury of the growth plate. Moreover, all of this information will help you and your doctor determine which treatment plan will work to enable a full and speedy recovery.
Treatments for fractures in children will vary, and depends on the broken bone and the severity of the injury. In children, fractures can affect the growth and development of the bones. This happens because children have many bone growth plates, a part of the bone where bone growth takes place. Also, bone growth continues throughout childhood and if one of these growth plates becomes involved in a fracture, it may affect bone development.
Our doctors suggest Physical therapy as a choice for treatment when a bone is not broken.
If you have a displaced fracture, meaning the two ends of the fracture do not align, your doctor may need to manipulate the pieces back into their proper positions — a process called reduction. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling, the child may need a muscle relaxant, a sedative, or even a general anesthetic before this procedure.
To speed proper healing and allow the ends to knit back together, our doctors will immobilize the area of the broken bone. In most cases, this requires a cast. However, minor foot fractures may only need a removable brace, boot, or shoe with a stiff sole. We tape fractured toes together with a piece of gauze between them.
In some cases, one of our pediatric orthopedic physicians may need to use pins, plates, or screws to maintain the proper position of your bones during healing. Upon the ankle being healed, these materials may be removed if prominent or painful.
Common Questions Our Specialists Are Asked
Why does my child’s ankle hurt?
Most ankle pains in children happen because of minor trauma or repetitive stress and abnormal biomechanics of the foot and lower extremity. Also, older children can isolate pain to a particular site but toddlers may limp or not walk because of the pain.
Can my child get growing pains in the ankles?
Issues with the foot, ankle, and legs are often referred to as growing pains in children that have problems with the bone and muscles of the lower extremity.
What can cause ankle pain without injury?
The following conditions can make your child experience pain in the ankle without sustaining any injury:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Flat feet
- Reactive arthritis
Whom do I see for my child’s ankle pain?
Growth plate injuries can be difficult to treat if the injuries occur before the ankle’s growth plates are fully developed. At Medical City Children’s Orthopedics and Spine Specialists, our ankle surgeons are well trained in this area. In addition, they are adept at caring for the growth plates, ankle bones, and soft tissues in developing children.
When should I take my child to the doctor for ankle pain?
You need to take your child to the doctor for ankle pain when you detect signs of potential foot problems such as:
- Ingrown toenails
- Complaints about foot and ankle pain
- Stabbing pain
We Can Help!
Finally, our doctors at Medical City Children’s Orthopedics and Spine Specialists understand the importance of maintaining your child’s health. In addition, our experts and specialists have the training, knowledge, and experience required to take care of a sprained or broken ankle that is causing pain to your child. If your child experiences any form of ankle pain, don’t hesitate to call our office at 214-556-0590 to schedule an appointment at one of our four locations.
Call 214-556-0590 to make an appointment.
Comprehensive services for children from birth through adolescence at four convenient locations: Arlington, Dallas, Frisco and McKinney.