Ankle Sprain. Do I need to go to Hospital???

Rolled ankle? Do I need to go to emergency?

How many times has your child, or someone else’s come off the sporting field with a sore and swollen ankle? Is it serious enough to take them to emergency? Will you be there for 4 hours just to be told to go home and put some ice on it?

In this blog we are going to have a look at lateral ankle injuries and give you some guidelines to look out for to know if you need to take your child to the emergency department or not. 

Lateral ankle injuries are without a doubt one of the most common injuries that occurs to our kids. So how do they occur? A lateral ankle injury happens when the foot rapidly rolls inwards, this can occur by stepping in a hole or on another player’s foot, landing awkwardly from a jump or by changing direction quickly. 

When this happens the most common thing to happen is tearing to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle- this is called a lateral ankle sprain. However sometimes a fracture can occur to the bones in the ankle, foot or higher up the shin.

When should I go to emergency? 

  • If your child is weight bearing and walking on the injured leg chances are that there has been no bony damage and you don’t need to go to emergency.
  • If your child is unable to take more than 4 steps and if there is tenderness over the following locations it is a good idea to get an x-ray to see if there is a fracture present:
    • Bottom of the fibula (the bone on the outside of the ankle) 
    • Base of the 5th Metatarsal – (halfway up the outside of the foot) 
    • Bottom of the tibia (bone on the inside of the ankle) 
    • Navicular (middle of the foot on the inside). 

If you haven’t been to emergency, but are a bit unsure if your child needs an x-ray drop in to our Monday morning injury clinic and our physio’s will do a quick assessment and refer you for an x-ray if needed. 

There is no fracture, Should I still see a physio? 

If your child has had a lateral ankle injury and is still experiencing pain, swelling and difficulty running a couple of days after injury it is a good idea to see your physio. Your physio will help to get the ankle moving optimally and restore normal walking and running quickly, work on strength and balance exercises and give advice on strapping and bracing to reduce the risk of further injuries.