Bumps and bruises, cuts and grazes – they’re all a natural part of the rough and tumble of childhood. Most of the time, your little one will be just fine with a plaster and lots of cuddles. A sprained wrist or a strained muscle, on the other hand, may need a bit of extra special care.
Strains or sprains often happen when your child pushes a muscle too far: for example, a back strain from lifting heavy objects. They can also happen as the result of a trip or fall.
Active children can strain or sprain a part of their body from running around the garden, climbing over furniture or playing sport.
Your child may have a strain or sprain if:
- They complain of sharp, immediate pain in a body part they’ve just used (e.g. ankle or wrist)
- They are unable to put weight on a body part that was injured
- They complain of pain in a body part after strenuous activity (e.g. playing sport)
Although the pain may feel the same, strains and sprains are different conditions because they affect different structures in the body.
Strains are caused by damage to muscles or tendons (bands of tissue that joins muscle to a bone). Common places for strains include the back, neck, shoulder and legs.
Sprains, on the other hand, are caused by damage to ligaments (strong bands of tissue that hold bones together). Ankles, wrists and knees sprain easily.
Use the RICE principle immediately after your child suffers a strain or sprain:
- Rest - Get your child to stop moving the part of the body that’s been strained or sprained. Avoid putting weight on an injured area for the first two days.
- Ice - Use some ice to cool the affected area. The cold will help bring down swelling in the early stages. Don’t apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time.
- Compression - Give the injury extra support by compressing the affected area with a bandage. When the injury is wrapped firmly, the pressure can prevent or decrease swelling.
- Elevation - Try to keep the injured area elevated by placing it on a pillow. This helps to reduce swelling.
Nurofen for Children can provide temporary relief of pain and reduce inflammation. When used with supervision, Nurofen Heat Patches may also help to soothe your child’s strains by increasing blood flow to the injured areas.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a sprain and a broken bone, so take your child to see a doctor if you’re not sure.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Do not give to babies under 3 months of age. Seek medical advice for children under 12 months of age. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters please contact your doctor.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Sprains and strains: what’s the difference? [Internet] Accessed 3 September 2014.
- About health. Sprains and strains. [Internet] Accessed 3 September 2014
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.