Your child's ankle can be forced out of its normal position (dislocated) after an accident, in a fall, or when playing sports.
When the ankle is dislocated, damage can happen to the bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Your child may need more treatment.
The doctor put your child's ankle back in its normal position and may have put it in a splint or cast. This will keep the ankle stable until your follow-up visit.
Your child may need surgery because a dislocated ankle is often also broken.
It may take weeks or months for your child's ankle to heal, depending on how bad the injury is.
Your child may have had a sedative to help them relax. Your child may be unsteady after having sedation. It takes time (sometimes a few hours) for the medicine's effects to wear off. Common side effects of sedation include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or cranky.
The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
- Put ice or a cold pack on your child's ankle for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's cast or splint. Keep the cast or splint dry.
- Follow the cast care instructions your doctor gives you. If your child has a splint, do not take it off unless your doctor tells you to.
- Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
- If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- Prop up your child's leg on pillows in the first few days after the injury. Keep the ankle higher than the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
- Do not let your child put weight on the ankle unless your doctor tells you to. Your child may have to use crutches or a knee scooter to get around.
- Have your child wiggle their toes often to reduce swelling and stiffness.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- Your child has trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
- Using the belly muscles to breathe.
- The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.
- Your child is very sleepy and is hard to wake up.
- Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has new or worse nausea or vomiting.
- Your child has new or worse pain.
- Your child's foot is cool or pale or changes color.
- Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the foot or toes.
- Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
- Your child has signs of a blood clot in the leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness or swelling in the leg.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your child has a problem with their splint or cast.
- Your child does not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter F484 in the search box to learn more about "Dislocated Ankle in Children: Care Instructions".
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth J. Koval MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma