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Question
Posted by: Lynette | 2006/07/27

Sprained ankle - pain in leg

Dear FitnessDoc,

My son of eight years old sprained his ankle in Judo last week. I followed the RICE approach and it seemed to have helped a lot. Also used ARNICA to rub it and then bandage it with specific instructions to take it easy. Last night after practice he came home and complained about his whole leg being sore. From his ankle right up to the fold of his leg (Calve muscle - not front/tibia).

Now I am no doctor, but also learned from my injuries in the past. Surely he must have hurt his ankle again, but I doubt if the pain behind his knee (fold of leg) is related to the ankle. He does not portray any symptoms of ITB either. I asked him to sit down and touch his toes (gentle movement) when he jerked and said that the muscle behind his knee hurts.

Commonsence tells me that this has to do with the Hamstring muscle.Again, I am no Dr, thus I need your advice on this PLEASE.

Thanks for your good replies always.

Regards,
L


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Lynette

Perhaps what you are seeing now is a great example of compensation injury, where your son has had to compensate for weakness in the injured ankle by taking on more load in other areas. Often this happens with the leg on the OTHER side but can also happen with another joint on the same side. And so you may well be right, it could be the hamstring, but it could be a number of other little ligaments or muscles too. Any of them could have been caused by having to put more weight, for example, through the knee so that he could protect the ankle - the body is amazing that way, it is called proprioception and often it happens when we are not even aware of it. For example, if you were to ask your son to balance on his good leg with his eyes closed, he would probably have very little difficulty keeping his balance, for the most part. If he tries it on the injured side, it may be a very different story and that tells you that the control, strength and the confidence in the weaker leg is not there. So it stands to reason that if he has to jump or land on that leg, he may adjust without even knowing it.

Finally, and I hate to say it, it could be completely unrelated and be a new injury altogether. Sorry to throw a spanner in the works, but I remember how it is with children, they just go for it and the chances of picking up injuries are pretty high. Fortunately, they do usually recover pretty fast and so my advice is to wait and see - go with the same idea as last time and emphasise rest, and if it does not get better then, I would suggest he see a doctor.

Good luck!
Ross

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