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Suggestions for follow-up care of sprains

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Topic: Diseases & Conditions

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about care of sprains at home. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to go over any instructions you do not understand.

You can do the following at home to make your child feel more comfortable:
1. It is important that sprains be raised above the level of the heart for 48 hours. This helps to relieve pain and decrease swelling. If your child’s sprained area hangs below heart level, the area of the sprain may swell. This will make the dressings on the sprained area too tight.
2. If your child sprained a foot or leg, keep it elevated (raised) on one to two pillows while your child is lying down.
3. If your child sprained a hand, wrist or elbow, the sprain needs to be raised on pillows above the level of the shoulders.
4. Apply ice off and on to the sprain for the first 24-48 hours. Use a cloth between the skin and the ice to keep from hurting the skin.
5. Sometimes fractures (broken bones) or other problems may not show up on the x-rays taken in the emergency department. If pain or swelling lasts more than three to four days without improvement or gets worse, call your child’s doctor.
6. After hours, your child’s x-ray will be looked at by the emergency department doctor, then by the radiologist (x-ray doctor). If the radiologist sees anything different about the x-rays, you and/or your child’s doctor will be called within 24 hours.

Consider the following when determining your child’s readiness to return to sports:
1. Swelling: all swelling should be gone before your child is permitted to return to unrestricted activities.
2. Range of motion & strength: Range of Motion (ROM) and strength must be 90% or greater and painfree. You can determine your child’s ROM and strength by comparing to the uninjured side.
Remember, most injuries occur when children are tired. Your child should work on conditioning in a safe manner when recovering from injury, so they are in shape when released to participate.

You should call your child’s doctor if your child complains or you notice any of these symptoms:
1. Numbness (loss of feeling) or tingling of the sprained arm or leg.
2. Toes or fingers of the sprained arm or leg that are cold to the touch when compared to the uninjured arm or leg.
3. Changes in skin color.


Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003


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