Knowing When Your Child’s Ankle Is Broken And What You Should Do

September 18th, 2019 Becki Andrus
Childhood Orthopedic Problems

Does Your Child Have A Broken Ankle? Know The Signs.

Having your child suddenly approach you because he or she is in pain is certainly an unfortunate but almost inevitable part of parenting. Sometimes their discomfort might be the result of an injury, and the ankle joint is one of the more common areas for an issue to occur. While this very often can be the result of a sprain or strain you might find yourself contending with a situation in which your child’s ankle has been fractured.

At this point, it is important to clarify that despite some uncertainty that exists whether a fracture and a break are separate issues, the fact remains that a fracture and a broken bone are identical.

Since a broken bone is a fractured bone, any issue that results in even a hairline crack of the bone can be considered as a fracture. If a fracture takes place in the ankle, it will emerge in any of the three bones that comprise the ankle joint:

The tibia – which is referred to as the shinbone

The fibula – which is the smaller bone that is located in the lower leg

The talus – this can also be referred to as the foot bone, and it can be found above the heel bone

If your son or daughter has the unwanted experience of a fractured ankle, this injury is common with children, and it occurs most frequently with the tibia and the fibula. These usually will involve the growth plates, which are areas of soft tissue that are located near the end of the long bones of children. These growth plates do not become firm until girls reach the ages of 13-15, while the process takes somewhat longer for boys (ages 15-17). Until that time, the growth plates are among the most vulnerable areas of the skeleton.

Causes of Broken Ankles

For that reason, some ankle movements that would cause a sprain in an adult can result in a fractured growth plate for a child. Between 15% to 30% of all childhood fractures are categorized as growth plate fractures, and these can occur due to significant events such as a fall, or exuberant movements during playground activities that cause the ankle to twist.

They can also be the result of repetitive motion that takes place during sports such as football, basketball, dancing, and gymnastics, along with recreational activities such as biking, and skateboarding. When these situations occur, the injury can remain limited to a sprain if only ligaments are involved. But if the bone breaks simultaneously as the ligaments are affected, then a fracture will be the result.

Considering the vulnerable state of your child’s bones during the process of growth plates becoming firm, one step that parents can take is to maximize the chances that your son or daughter will have healthy bones. This includes making sure that they maintain a healthy diet, which involves vitamin D and calcium. If your child does not receive a sufficient amount of calcium within their diet, it will impact his or her bone mass.

Symptoms Of A Broken Ankle

The most frequent symptom of a fractured ankle will be pain and this can certainly occur when your son or daughter attempts to walk or place any pressure on their ankle. However, the discomfort might not always be located in the precise area of the actual break.

Bruising is also an indication that a break has occurred, as is swelling and numbness. If your son or daughter is unable to straighten their ankle near the area, or it to a very difficult to move it, then these are additional signs of a fracture. Any snapping noise that your child may have noticed when the injury took place is yet another indication of a broken ankle.

In the case of a more severe fracture, you may observe a deformity in some region of the ankle. Sometimes, part of the bone might be exposed, which provides a visible indication of a break.

What A Doctor Will Do

Since pain and swelling can develop due to both a broken ankle and an ankle sprain, it is recommended that you call your physician, and determine whether he or she can attend to your child, or if your doctor recommends that you receive emergency attention.

When you visit a doctor or urgent care facility, there will be a series of questions during an examination of your child that will be designed to determine your child’s medical history and the circumstances that surround the ankle issue.

In some situations, a visual examination can ascertain whether there is any bruising, any openings in the skin, or any unusual appearance of the ankle that indicates a fracture. In many other cases, your doctor will order X-rays. However, X-rays do not always display growth plate fractures, which might necessitate the need to also utilize MRIs and CT Scans.

Specific treatment for your child’s fractured broken ankle will depend upon the specifics of the situation. These include where the fracture is located, how the foot was positioned and pointed when the injury occurred, and how extensively the growth plate has been impacted. While a walking boot, cast, crutches, or even surgery can all be included in the eventual treatment plans, the specific nature of each injury will ultimately determine how your doctor will choose to proceed.

At Orthopedic Associates Our Team Is Ready To Help

At Orthopedic Associates, our team of certified doctors are standing by to put their combined 183 years of experience to work for you and your family. That includes our ankle doctor specialists Aaron D. Schrayer, M.D. and Michael J. Willenborg, M.D., who are dedicated toward using their expertise and commitment toward assiting with any questions, concerns, and conditions that you or your child may have. Our goal is for you and your family to enjoy pain-free participation in the activities and lifestyle that you prefer.


Our specialists at Orthopedic Associates treat a wide range of ankle conditions, including:

  • Accessory Navicular
  • Achilles Tendon Injuries
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Charcot’s Neuroarthropathy (CN)
  • Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
  • Clubfoot (Talipes Equinovarus)
  • Fracture of the Talus
  • Haglund’s Deformity (Retrocalcaneal Bursitis)
  • High Ankle Sprain (Syndesmosis Ligament Injury)
  • Navicular Stress Fracture
  • Osteochondral Injuries of the Talus
  • Peroneal Tendon Tears
  • Pilon Fractures
  • Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Ankle
  • Stress Fractures of the Ankle
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (Posterior Tibial Neuralgia)
  • Tibial Fractures


Our specialists are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the ankle including:
  • Achilles Tendon Lengthening
  • Anesthesia
  • Ankle Fracture/Fusion
  • Ankle Replacement
  • Arthroscopic Articular Cartilage Repair (Ankle)
  • Arthroscopy of the Ankle
  • Cartilage Repair
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Debridement of the Achilles Tendon
  • Fixation for Ankle Syndesmosis
  • Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Radiofrequency Treatment for Achilles Tendinosis
  • Resection of Haglund’s Deformity
  • Surgery for Achilles Tendon Rupture
  • Talar Fracture Fixation (Open Reduction and Internal Fixation)
  • Tibiotalocalcaneal Fusion (with Intramedullary Rod)
  • Tendon Transfer/Repair
  • Total Ankle Joint Replacement

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Talk to an Orthopedic Specialist in Flower Mound

Request an appointment at Orthopedic Associates in Flower Mound, TX and start your path to a happier life.