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Caring for a soft tissue injury (sprain) fact sheet

Caring for a soft tissue injury (sprain)

Your child has been assessed and observed in the Emergency Department after a soft tissue injury (sprain) and has been declared fit for discharge. There are a number of things you can do to help your child feel more comfortable and recover more quickly at home.

Pain relief

Give your child some simple pain relieving medication such as Paracetamol (Panadol) or Ibuprofen (Nurofen/Advil) to help them move around and remain comfortable. Your doctor or nurse will discuss which medications are best and when to use them.

Rest 

Help your child get into a comfortable position. They should stay as inactive as possible for the first 24-48 hours. This will help reduce inflammation and limit further damage around the sprain. After this time, your child should start to move the affected limb as normal and do gentle exercises.

Ice

Apply an ice pack to the injury for 20 minutes every two hours while your child is awake. Continue this for the first 48 hours after the sprain occurred. Remember to cover the ice pack with a wet towel, pillow case or cloth. Don’t apply it directly to the skin.

Compression

If your child has a compression bandage over their injury to reduce inflammation and swelling, be sure to check the bandage is not too tight. Compare the colour of their uninjured limb with the injured one. If their fingers or toes appear white or blue compared to the other hand or foot, take off the bandage. Also check the temperature of the fingers or toes – they should be as warm as the uninjured hand or foot.

Elevation

Raise the injured area to the level of the heart or above. Resting it on a pillow can reduce bleeding, swelling and pain because gravity helps to drain the excess fluid away.

Referral

If you have any concerns about the pain or injury, visit your GP or return to the Emergency Department.

Contact us

Emergency Department
Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 1111 (hospital switchboard)

In an emergency, always contact 000 for immediate assistance.

Resource No: FS209. Developed by the Emergency Department, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. Updated: October 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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