An accident — even a simple twist or light fall — can cause a bruise, strain or sprain.
Bruises, sprains and strains are known as soft tissue injuries.
A bruise is the result of a broken blood vessel and tissue damage.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. (A tendon is a tough, fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone.)
A sprain is an injury to a ligament, such as a stretch or tear. (A ligament is a band of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones to a joint and keeps that joint from moving too much.) The most common site for a sprain is the ankle.
How to treat a bruise, strain or sprain
To treat a minor soft tissue injury, remember RICE:
— Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for 48 hours. If your child has a leg injury, she may need to stay off the leg completely.
— Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day. Use a cold pack, ice bag, or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel.
— Compression: Placing pressure on the injured area may help reduce swelling: bandages (such as elastic wraps), special boots, air casts and splints. Ask your health care provider which is best for your child.
— Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated (raised) above the level of your child's heart. Use a pillow to help raise a leg or arm.
Give your child over-the-counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) for discomfort. Follow the package directions for your child's age and weight. If your child is very young, do not give medicine unless advised by your health care provider.
When to call your health care provider
Call your health care provider if:
you see a broken bone
the joint (an ankle, knee, hip, wrist or elbow) is discolored
the injured area won't move
swelling won't go down
pain won't lessen with treatment
your child cannot move the affected area without pain