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Q: How should I treat strains and sprains?

Posted May 08, 2013 in Advice Column, Norwalk

A: Strains are injuries to muscle due to overstretching, while sprains involve a stretch or a partial tear of ligaments or tendons. Sprains and strains happen more often in teenagers than in younger children.

Signs and symptoms: Pain in the joint or muscle, swelling and bruising, warmth and redness of the injured area and difficulty moving the injured area.

What to do. Make sure the injured person stops activity right away, Rest the injured area until it is less painful. 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 per day. Support the injured area with an elastic compression bandage for at least two days Raise the injured area above the heart level to decrease swelling. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and to help reduce swelling.

Seek medical care if: There is severe pain when the injured area is touched or moved. Continued trouble bearing weight in lower extremity areas. Increased bruising. Numbness or a feeling of “pins and needles” in the injured area. If a limb looks “bent” or “misshaped.” Signs of infection occur. If there is not significant improvement after five to seven days.

Teach your child(ren) to warm up properly and to stretch before and after exercising or participating in any sport.  Make sure they always wear appropriate protective equipment.

Information from “Your Growing Child, A Kids Health Guide to Injuries and Illnesses,” submitted by Ronda Montgomery, UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at Norwalk, 801 Colonial Circle, 285-3200.

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