Ankle Sprain in Children

Updated March 23, 2017

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments are injured. Ankle sprains are the most common type of sprain in children. In most cases, ankle sprains heal on their own within a few weeks, but more severe sprains might require a longer recovery time or even surgery.


Ankle sprains are classified as a grade 1, 2 or 3 sprain. A Grade 1 sprain occurs when the ligament is stretched too far. A Grade 2 sprain occurs when the ligament is torn partially. And a Grade 3 sprain occurs when the ligament is severed completely.


Children are most likely to sprain their ankle when jumping. During jumping, the child might land so the foot is bent inward. This action might stretch or tear the ankle ligaments.


Grade 1 strains are characterised by mild bruising, tenderness and swelling. A child with a Grade 1 strain might have a minor limp. Grade 2 sprains are characterised by moderate tenderness, swelling and bruising. A child with a Grade 2 strain will walk with a limp. Grade 3 sprains are accompanied by severe swelling and pain, which prevent the child from putting any weight on the affected ankle.

Time Frame

A mild sprain typically heals in about two weeks, but Grade 2 sprains might require four weeks of recovery time. Grade 3 sprains might require a month or more of healing time.


Sprains are usually treated using the RICE technique. Allow the ankle to rest, apply ice, wrap the ankle using an ace bandage and elevate the ankle.

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About the Author

Based in Laurel, Miss., Melody Morgan Hughes covers topics related to education, money and health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English education from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Education from William Carey University and a Master of Education from Nova Southeastern University.