close   X

2/7/23 blog post

when to be concerned about a sprain

coach checking on soccer player ankle injury

in this article

Strains are injuries to muscle due to overstretching like a common hamstring strain, while sprains involve a stretch or a partial tear of ligaments (which connect two bones) or tendons (which connect muscle to bone) such as the ACL in the knee. Sprains and strains happen more often in teens than in younger children, especially those that are physically active or playing competitive sports.

signs and symptoms 

  • pain in the joint or muscle
  • swelling and bruising
  • warmth and redness of the injured area
  • difficulty moving the injured part

what to do

If you suspect your child has suffered from a sprain or strain, make sure they stop activity right away. Think "R.I.C.E." for the first 48 hours after the injury:

  • Rest: Rest the injured area, until it's less painful.
  • Ice: Wrap an icepack or cold compress in a towel and place over the injured area immediately. Continue for no more than 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day.
  • Compression: Support the injured area with an elastic compression bandage for at least 2 days.
  • Elevation: Raise the injured area above heart level to decrease swelling.

graphic with symptoms of a sprain














when to seek specialist care

Consider visiting a sports medicine provider if your child has:

  • severe pain when the injured part is touched or moved
  • continued trouble bearing weight
  • increased bruising
  • numbness or a feeling of "pins and needles" in the injured area
  • a limb that looks "bent" or misshapen
  • signs of infection (increased warmth, redness, streaks, swelling, and pain)
  • a strain or sprain that doesn't seem to be improving after 5 to 7 days

Concerned about your child's sprain or strain? We're here to help. To schedule an appointment with one of Dayton Children's sports medicine providers, visit:


symptom checker

Check symptoms and dosage charts and get quick advice on what to do when your kids are sick.

view the symptom checker