What types of injuries occur?

Foot and ankle injuries are common in children and adolescents, particularly in children who are very active and in those who participate in organized sports. Common injuries seen in our practice include:

Ankle Pain in Children

Injuries that occur as a result of one particular traumatic episode are referred to as acute injuries. In skeletally immature children, acute injuries can occur at the area of growth in the bone, otherwise known as the growth plate. For example, growth plate fractures in the ankle can occur with a mechanism of injury that typically causes an ankle sprain in an older individual. Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that connect the bones together are stretched, resulting in ankle pain and swelling. In children, the reason that the growth plate is more commonly injured is because the growing cartilage/bone often is the weakest structure compared to the surrounding ankle ligaments. Most growth plate fractures tend to heal without complications, but these injuries often require special attention to avoid future problems with growth.

Overuse Injuries in the Foot and Ankle

Injuries that occur over time because of repetitive activity are known as overuse injuries. Overuse injuries in the foot and ankle may involve the growth plate. For example, chronic heel pain that occurs in active children between the ages of nine and 13 is most likely related to overuse and inflammation around the growth plate located in the heel bone (calcaneus). This type of growth plate is called an apophysis. Activity-related pain that is localized to this growth plate is a condition referred to as Calcaneal apophysitis (Or Sever’s disease). Overuse injuries that do not involve the growth plate include tendinitis and stress fractures. These injuries are more common in older adolescents, particularly in running and jumping sports such as soccer, basketball, and gymnastics.

What symptoms do I look for?

Pain and swelling present after an acute trauma indicate a musculoskeletal injury. The pain may be generalized to the area or be specific to one particular location. Refusal to bear weight, severe swelling, numbness/tingling or restriction of motion may indicate more serious injury. Chronic injury may present more gradually, with more vague complaints of pain that is made worse with activity. An athlete may notice a decline in their performance.

When should my child see a doctor?

Consulting an orthopedic specialist is warranted when pain, swelling, and trouble bearing weight persist despite home treatment such as RICE (R-Rest, I-Ice, C-Compression, E-Elevation). If your child is unable to return to activities or sports, or if he has joint swelling, locking or instability, seeking professional assistance is essential. Consulting a pediatric orthopedic professional is especially important if your injured child is still growing. Injuries that occur near the growth plate can be challenging to recognize and appropriate treatment is necessary to ensure adequate management and healing. Sports medicine specialists are able to make specific recommendations about rehabilitating the injury and safely returning to activity and sports. 

What should I expect at my appointment?

Rocky Mountain Pediatric OrthoONE offers fellowship-trained physicians that specialize in the treatment of the wide range of injuries that affect school-aged athletes. Our dedicated team will develop a detailed treatment plan that includes a rehabilitation program focused on returning your child safely to play. When surgery is necessary, our fellowship-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeons will discuss specialized, age-appropriate and minimally invasive surgical options. 

Services available at the Youth Sports Medicine Institute

  • Surgical and non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal injuries/sports injuries
  • Full-spectrum orthopedic care (complex fractures, ligament and cartilage trauma/injury, limb deformity, hand/upper extremity conditions, spine and hip disease/conditions)
  • State of the art x-ray (New technology with low-dose radiation and enhanced clinical imaging)
  • Physical therapy and sports performance facility
  • Comprehensive concussion management program
  • Sports Nutrition Consultation  

Services available on the campus of the Centennial Medical Plaza

  • Outpatient Surgery tailored to the needs of young patients
  • MRI (New 3T technology to allow for shorter scan times and higher quality images)
  • Emergency Care 24/7 

In addition, our Institute offers our patients full access to other specialists at RMHC.