A sprained ankle is not a common injury for toddlers since a young child’s ligaments are stronger than bone. However, sprains still happen and can abruptly stop your toddler’s play date. A toddler’s sprained ankle is treated the exact same way as an adult sprain. This can be scary for your toddler, so offer reassurance. If pain is severe, seek emergency assistance to rule out a fractured bone.
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If your toddler has a sprained ankle, the pain is sharp and occurs immediately after an injury. The ankle and foot may swell and it may be difficult for your toddler to bear weight on the affected side. Shortly after the injury occurs bruising, warmth and redness may occur. A twisted ankle is most likely to cause a sprained, which can occur if your toddler land wrong while jumping, has his foot land in a hole while running or stepping on an uneven surface.
Immediately after the injury occurs, immobilize the ankle by having your toddler lie down and elevate the ankle above heart level with a pillow or stuffed animal. Grab ice or a bag of frozen veggies and a towel. Place the towel on your toddler’s ankle and place the ice onto the towel so it does not have direct contact with the skin. Leave the ice on the ankle for 15 to 20 minutes. Ice the area three times per day. You may need to hold the ice in place for a restless toddler. Compress the ankle with elastic tape to relieve swelling. Call your toddler’s pediatrician if the swelling or pain gets worse.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce pain from a sprained ankle. If the sprain is severe, physical therapy is often necessary once the swelling and paid subsides. Physical therapy includes stretches and exercises to support healing of the ankle. If the ligament is severely torn and not responding to the mentioned methods, surgery followed by physical therapy is used as a last resort.
Apply nonsticky gauze under wrapping to your toddler’s ankle to keep tape from sticking directly to the skin. Have you toddler flex his foot slightly upward as you start taping with elastic tape at the top-middle of the ankle. Take the tape around the Achilles heel staying level with your ankle and then bring the tape down around the inside of your heel. The tape goes around the ankle and inside of the heel in a figure-eight motion. Repeat this twice and stop at the front-top of the ankle. Pull firmly on the tape and secure it. Your toddler’s foot should be comfortable and the toes should not be turning colors. If your toddler’s toes seem discolored after taping, remove the tape and redo the taping. Your toddler should not be able to move the ankle side-to-side, but circulation should move freely between the ankle and foot.