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How should my child be treated for a sprain or strain?

Your child’s doctor will talk with you about specific care for your child. Some general guidelines to follow include using P.R.I.C.E.:

P.R.I.C.E.

1. Protect. Until you can get to medical care, splint the area using a small board covered with cloth, a thick magazine or folded newspaper, or a sling. Take care not to wrap the splint too tightly. When the area swells, a tight wrap around it can cut off the blood supply and cause more harm.

2. Rest. Rest the area as much as possible. Avoid things that cause pain or swelling.

3. Ice. Apply ice three times a day until swelling is gone.

Each time put ice:

  • On 20 minutes
  • Off 10 minutes
  • On 20 minutes
  • Off 10 minutes
  • On 20 minutes

You may use:

  • Ice in a plastic bag
  • Bags of frozen (kernel) corn or peas. These mold nicely to the
          injured area.
  • Paper cups filled with ice to rub on area.

4. Compress. Your child’s doctor may order an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap) or other wrap for the area.

5. Elevate. Keep the injured area above the heart. It is easier to get the ankle higher than the heart while sitting on the floor rather than in a chair. When in bed, raise the foot end of the mattress by placing blankets, towels and other lifters under the mattress. This usually works better than using them on top of the mattress.

Other guidelines may include:

  • Do NOT use heat or warm soaks for the first 24 to 48 hours after injury. This can cause more swelling.
  • Give your child ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil or other less costly store brand) for pain and to decrease inflammation. Follow the directions on the box carefully or ask your doctor how much medicine to give. Do not give ibuprofen to babies less than 6 months of age without a doctor's advice.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.