You might associate stiff, cracking, or painful joints with the wear and tear of getting older, but ankle pain is something that can affect people of any age group, including children. In fact, it’s common for kids to experience issues that cause discomfort of the extremities as they grow up. This is especially true of children who are involved in sports and other strenuous physical activities. Children’s ankle pain can come from a number of sources, and it’s important to be aware of the most frequent root causes in order to identify the issue early on and take the necessary steps to avoid a longer-term problem. Here are five of the most common issues that cause ankle pain for children.
- Ankle Sprains: Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries for children. These injuries can be caused by planting and pivoting off of one foot, and therefore are more likely to occur among kids who participate in sports such as basketball, soccer, and tennis. A sprain can mean one or more of the ligaments of the ankle have been subjected to stretching or a partial or full rupture.Sprains in children tend to heal rather quickly, and less serious sprains will usually resolve by themselves. However, sprains can cause damage to the ankle growth plate, affecting the development and alignment of the joint as the child matures. A sprain which causes serious swelling and inability to support weight on the ankle should be looked at by a medical professional to prevent chronic instability and other long-term issues.
- Overuse: Repetitive stress injuries can be another issue for children who are very active. The ankles have to absorb a lot of stress during running and jumping, and the repeated impact can take a toll over time. Some of the most common overuse injuries include tendinitis and stress fractures. While painful, these issues can usually be treated through basic first aid such as rest, icing, and immobilizing the ankle.
- Flat Feet: Some children are born with flat feet This is often not a particularly big issue, as most kids will develop a normal arch by the age of five or so. If the arch does not develop, flat feet can contribute to several different painful conditions. Insufficient arch support can cause ankle problems as well as back pain and other postural issues. Orthotics are typically needed for children who have flat feet to provide the arch support they need.
- Poor Posture: Poor posture tends to progress over time, and an unnatural or inappropriate walking motion can cause joints to become misaligned. This may result in growing pains and increasing discomfort if the issue is not corrected. Some children’s feet will turn inward towards each other over time, which puts additional stress on the ankles, knees and other structures involved in standing and walking.
- Improper Footwear: Ankle pain can often be the result of something as simple as not wearing the right shoes. Make sure that your kids are wearing appropriate shoes that provide adequate support for any sports or physical activity they are participating in. Parents will also know just how fast children can grow. When kids have outgrown their footwear and are walking around in shoes that aren’t big enough for them, it can affect their gait in ways that have a long-term negative impact on the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower body. Make sure that you are regularly checking the fit of your kids’ shoes and sizing up when necessary.
If your child is experiencing ankle pain, Weil Foot and Ankle is here to help. Click Here to schedule an appointment with us!