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Ankle Fracture In Children

What is an ankle fracture in children?

An ankle fracture is when 1 or more of the bones in your child's ankle break.

What causes an ankle fracture in children?

  • Twisting or bending the ankle upward

  • A car accident

  • A direct blow to the ankle

  • Falling on the ankle

What are the signs and symptoms of an ankle fracture in children?

  • Your child has pain and swelling in his ankle.

  • Your child's ankle is bruised or deformed.

  • Your child has trouble moving his ankle or foot.

  • Your child is unable to put weight on his ankle.

How is an ankle fracture in children diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about his injury and examine him. Your child may need any of the following tests:

  • X-ray: This is a picture of your child's ankle fracture. He may be given dye as a shot into his ankle joint before the x-ray. This dye will help his joint show up better on the x-ray. A joint x-ray with dye is called an arthrogram.

  • CT scan: This is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's ankle. Healthcare providers check for a fracture and tissue damage. Your child may be given dye in his IV to help healthcare providers see the images better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child is allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's ankle. An MRI is used to look for ligament tears or other injuries. Your child may be given dye in his IV to help healthcare providers see the images better. Your child will need to lie still during his test. Never enter the MRI room with any metal objects. This can cause serious injury.

How is an ankle fracture in children treated?

  • Support devices: Your child will be given a brace, cast, or splint to limit his movement and protect his ankle. Do not remove your child's device. He may need to use crutches to decrease his pain as he moves around. He should not put weight on his injured ankle.

  • Medicines:

    • Pain medicine: Your child may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his medicine.

    • Td vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent tetanus and diphtheria. The Td booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.

  • Closed reduction: This is when healthcare providers put your child's bones back into their correct position without surgery. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information about a closed reduction.

  • Open reduction: This is done when a closed reduction does not work or your child has ligament damage. An incision is made and the bones and ligaments are put back in the correct position. This may include the use of special wires, pins, plates or screws. Ask for more information about an open reduction.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Rest: Help your child rest his ankle so that it can heal.

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your child's ankle or support device for 20 minutes at least 4 times a day.

  • Compress: Ask if you should wrap an elastic bandage around your child's injured ligament. An elastic bandage provides support and helps decrease swelling and movement so your child's ankle can heal. Wear as long as directed.

  • Elevate: Help your child keep his ankle raised above the level of his heart as often as he can. This will help decrease or limit swelling. Elevate the injured ankle by resting it on pillows.

What are the risks of an ankle fracture in children?

  • Your child could get an infection if he has an open wound or has surgery. Even after treatment, his ankle may not go back to the way it was before. Your child may have discomfort and problems walking if he has to wear a cast.

  • Without treatment, your child's injured ankle may grow differently from the other ankle. His injured ankle may be shorter or bigger than the other one. The injury can cause problems with walking and activities, such as sports.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • You see new blood stains or notice a bad smell coming from under the cast or splint.

  • Your child has more pain or swelling than he did before the cast or splint was put on.

  • You see red streaks coming from your child's wound.

  • Your child's pain or swelling does not go away, even after treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Blood soaks through your child's bandage.

  • Your child has severe pain in his ankle.

  • Your child's splint or cast feels too tight.

  • Your child's cast breaks or gets damaged.

  • Your child's foot or toes feel cold or numb.

  • Your child's foot or toenails turn blue or gray.

  • Your child's swelling has increased or returned.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.