Sprained Ankle - Real or over Emphasizing It?

Updated on January 27, 2010
D.H. asks from Henrico, VA
4 answers

My 8 yo boy limped towards me off the bus yesterday and has been hopping on one foot ever since (at least in our presence - his 7 yo brother indicated that he had not been hopping prior to my van coming into sight at the bus stop) I did get a call from the school nurse saying he had been in, there was no swelling and nothing she could see. Dad and I looked at it - it may be ever so slightly swollen, but he refuses to put any weight on it. (towards back of heel, outside side - stepped in a hole at recess) Didnt want to take him to the Dr. - spend money and there's nothing they're going to be able to do for him - but Daddy caved and took him this morning. I did suggest he go ahead and get a flu shot while there - he hates shots - so maybe that will get him to hesitate before holding us hostage for the next trip to the Dr.s. I REALLY don't think there's anything seriously wrong - so -

What do you do when you think your kid is exaggerating injury- for attention/to get a break from school/whatever?


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So What Happened?

Thanks for the responses!
They went to the Dr.s and then to the hospital for X-rays. Nothing broken or fractured, just a sprain. (A very expensive sprain at this point.) But Daddy said we probably had to do this once - then he'll know what a sprain feels like and we shouldnt have to go get xrays everytime he's got a sprained ankle. He got a good explanation at the hospital, foot above heart for a day, ice 10 min each hour. I would have expected a much more swollen ankle than he's got for the amount of pain he is claiming, but oh well.

Ann, I appreciate the comment about teaching him to trust his body. I do want that for him. I typically do not trust what he says about pain/colds and the like, which may be causing his tendency to exaggerate. Or maybe he doesnt exaggerate and he has a low tolerance for pain, or maybe it really hurts bad. My own mother wasnt big on offering compassion when sick or injured (just get better and quit complaining), I guess I've inherited that from her - and its a hard habit for me to break.

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

Depends on the situation. Right now, my first grader says every morning that his stomach hurts & he should stay home. I'm not buying THIS particular product that he's selling! LOL But in the case of your son, with a trip to the nurse, pain still the next morning, I would have probably taken him to the docs too. Hope he's better soon.


answers from Dallas on

I would have taken him to the doctor too. If he could go all night without forgetting he was in pain then I would think he probably is. I think you did the right thing.



answers from Detroit on

In my case, I have had the opportunity to study the body enough to know what is happening and what to look for (I'm a reflexologist and certified massage therapist). I realize not every mom has this in their 'tool box', tho.

However, I think you did your son an injustice by not checking it with the doctor right away and threatening the flu shot... that's just bullying him. Siblings do not always get along and this is a younger sibling, therefore do you truly expect the younger brother to be truthful about big brother's situation or to truly be able to assess it correctly? Especially if big brother was walking slower and didn't need to limp?

Sometimes a hairline fracture can occur in a sprain. If there is swelling ~ there is stress or trauma in the area - indicating an issue. Do you have a medical degree to assess the situation? I don't and I would be taking my son in to the doctor~ all the while treating him to the best of my ability to a) keep him calm and b) halt the swelling, pain and bruising even further to allow healing to come faster.

I feel you just taught your son that a) you don't trust him about knowing what is going on with his body and b) you are indicating that he is lying about something that may end up being serious (and how would you feel if there were a fracture? My guess is pretty crappy in the long run, right? I know I would.), and c) that you are basically not listening to him when he may need you.

Yes, our kids may like to pull the fast one over us. My son would prefer to stay home and will tell me he doesn't feel well. However, if he doesn't hit a range of symptoms~ he doesn't stay home. As I work his feet in the morning, I can verify what is going on in his body by how sensitive these area's of complaint are.
But I also feel if you talk daily with children, get down on their level and chill out or play with them... alot of this can be avoided.

I truly hope your son is okay. Sprains and twisted ankles do hurt and a sprained ankle takes just as long to recover from as a broken ankle (keep that in mind. All those tendons & ligaments stretch and need to heal.).

Edit: As a reflexologist, I can tell you the foot is complex, as is the ankle. There are 26 bones, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles in the foot alone. As we use our feet daily, any injury on the foot will upset the entire body and affect it in another way, even by causing another pain symptom.



answers from Chicago on

When my son was 4 I noticed him limping a little when walking but couldn't run with one of his ankles. I was happening for about 2 weeks before I took him to the dr and get x-rays done. They couldn't find anything wrong but I didn't give up. I took him to a specialist because he wasn't getting any better. Within 15 min of being in the specialist office we found out that my son broke a tiny bone about 2 inches about his ankle. It slowly healed itself so there was no cast to be put on or anything but I was happy to know something was actually wrong and something did happen. Now how he broke that bone? We don't know. I also don't recall the name of the bone he broke but I was amazed to find that out. My doctor told me that usually kids don't make up injuries to themselves until they get into junior high to get out of things.

Not sure if this helps or not but I hope nothing is seriously wrong with your son.

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