First-aid kit: Sprains

What are they?

Bones are connected by way of ligaments. When these ligaments get injured, it is called a sprain. The ligaments can get hurt when they are severely stretched. If stretched far enough, they may tear either partially or completely.

What are the symptoms?

  • Swelling at or around the joint
  • Pain with use of that joint or when touching the affected ligament
  • Decreased use of the joint

What can/should be done at home

The best thing to do is RICE it:

R - Rest the joint for a few days to allow the swelling to decrease
I - Ice it with cool pack to decrease swelling
C - Compression with an elastic bandage can give some support and also decrease swelling
E - Elevate the affected joint, again to decrease swelling

When to get immediate attention

In younger children, the ligaments are actually stronger than the bones they connect. Therefore, severe stretching may actually cause the bone to separate or break before the tendon does. Do to this fact, any child who has not completed puberty, who sustains a significant injury to a joint such that significant swelling or decreased function occurs, ought to be examined by the doctor.

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