Pediatric foot and ankle specialists in Denver

Foot and ankle injuries are common in children and adolescents, particularly in children who are very active and participate in organized sports. Our complete pediatric orthopedic care team, including orthopedists, orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists, in Denver works together to diagnose and treat your child, so they can return to their active lifestyle as soon as possible.

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Ankle growth plate fractures

Injuries that occur as a result of one particular traumatic episode are referred to as acute injuries. In skeletally mature children, acute injuries can occur at the area of growth in the bone, otherwise known as a growth plate injury. For example, ankle growth plate fractures in children can occur with a type of injury that would typically cause 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 growth plate is more commonly injured 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 of 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 nine and 13 years old 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 who participate in running and jumping sports, such as soccer, basketball and gymnastics.

Learn more about overuse injuries in childhood sports.

When to see a pediatric foot and ankle doctor

It is important to see a specialist if your child has any of the following foot and ankle injury symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling after acute trauma
  • Pain may be generalized to the area or be specific to one particular location
  • Refusal to bear weight
  • Severe swelling
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Restriction of motion

Chronic injury may present more gradually, with more vague complaints of pain that is made worse by activity. An athlete may notice a decline in his or her performance.

Consulting a pediatric orthopedic specialist is necessary when pain, swelling and trouble bearing weight persist despite home treatment, such as rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If your child is unable to return to activities or sports—or has joint swelling, locking or instability—seeking professional assistance is essential.

A pediatric orthopedist’s care 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 injury management and healing.

Sports medicine specialists are able to make specific recommendations about rehabilitating the injury and safely returning to activity and sports.

Advanced treatment from a multidisciplinary team

Rocky Mountain Pediatric OrthoONE offers fellowship-trained physicians that specialize in the treatment of a 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 safely returning your child to play. When surgery is necessary, our pediatric orthopedic surgeons will discuss specialized, age-appropriate and minimally invasive surgical options.

When you choose the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children network, your child has access to all of the following:

  • Surgical and non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal injuries/sports injuries
  • Full-spectrum of orthopedic care, including:
    • Complex fractures
    • Ligament and cartilage trauma/injury
    • Limb deformity
    • Limb preservation
  • State-of-the-art diagnostic imaging
  • Physical therapy and a sports performance facility
  • Sports nutrition consultation
  • Outpatient surgery tailored to the needs of young patients
  • Emergency care 24/7
  • Comprehensive access to other pediatric specialists