not-so-healthy-1412914-mNo  one wants to see their child hurt. Sometimes children play hard and rough causing them to get injured, and one of the more common injuries to the musculoskeletal system is a sprain.

What is a sprain?

A sprain occurs when the ligaments overstretch or tear. Ankles, wrists and knees sprain more easily than other ligaments. Sprains are usually a result of an injury such as twisting an ankle or knee.

It can take a sprain as long as three to four weeks to heal and can sometimes take longer. When a child is healing from a sprain, they should refrain from activities that might further irritate the sprain.

What should you know when your child has a sprain?

How to recognize a sprain. When a child sprained a ligament, it will likely hurt right away and begin to swell and might looked bruised.

Symptoms of a sprain:

  • Pain in the joint or muscle
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Warmth and redness in the injured area
  • Difficulty moving the injured area

How to treat a sprain. The first step is to make sure your child stops the activity. Next, they should see a doctor as soon as possible. Often times it is hard to tell the difference between a sprain and a broken bone, so it’s important for a doctor to determine which injury it is.

A good way to take care of a sprain is to remember RICE. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation:

  • Rest the injured part of the body
  • Ice the injury in 20 minute intervals; be sure to place a towel between the skin and ice
  • Compress the injury with a bandage or splint, if it is recommended by the child’s doctor
  • Elevate the injury so that it’s higher than the heart to prevent swelling

How to prevent sprains. To prevent sprains, parents should:

  • Make sure their child warms up, stretches and wears protective gear when they play a sport
  • Make sure their child wears shoes that fit well
  • Make sure their child eats a well-balanced meal to build muscle strength