Fast First Aid: How to Treat a Sprain or Strain

Active kids are no strangers to sprains and strains. Here's how to heal them.

Kid has a sprain or strain? Don't panic! Learn the four things you need to do to treat these two common injuries, plus when to seek medical advice.

Active kids are gonna get hurt—it's a fact. And sprains and strains are common injuries.

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, while a strain is a torn muscle or tendon. Fortunately, they're treated the same way.


Remember RICE:

Rest the injured body part. Have your kid lie low for a few days to reduce the pain and swelling and let the healing begin.

Ice the area for about 20 minutes at a time, followed by 20 minutes off. A cold pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen veggies wrapped in a towel all work well.

Compress the area. In between icing, keep the injury wrapped in an elastic wrap, such as an ACE bandage, to combat swelling.

Elevate the injured body part up on pillows so it's above heart level. 


Continue to ice and elevate for 20 minutes at a time, at least four times a day, until the pain and swelling go away.

If he's in pain, ask your pediatrician about a dose of pain reliever such as ibuprofen.

Call your doctor if the pain is intense or doesn't improve in a day or two (he could have a severe sprain or even a fracture).

You should also contact the medical pros if your kid gets a fever, which is a sign of infection.


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