Pediatric Twists Sprains Breaks

Twists, Sprains, and Breaks: What to Do If Your Child Gets Hurt

Whether caused by a simple slip and fall in your backyard or a major wipe-out during a sports game, children are particularly vulnerable to sustaining all sorts of injuries. The most common injuries for children are sprains, strains, and broken bones, but it can be difficult to tell which injury you are dealing.

Read below to learn about the differences between these common injuries and what to do to ensure they can achieve a healthy recovery.

Joint Sprains

Sprains can impact the wrist, elbow, and knee, but most sprains experienced by children are ankle sprains, often caused while playing sports that involve jumping and landing, such as volleyball and basketball. They may experience pain, swelling, bruising, and limited movement, but they should still be able to bear weight or use the affected limb.

Muscle Strains

Strains generally result from twisting, over exertion, or overuse, and often occur during rapid acceleration or a sudden stop. For example, sports featuring jumping and quick starts, gripping sports like gymnastics or racquet sports and throwing sports can lead to strain. Strains in the back and hamstrings are common in contact sports like football and rugby. The symptom of a strain is pain with use of the affected muscle group.

Treatment for Sprains, Strains, and Breaks

Use the R.I.C.E pneumonic for treatment for sprains and strains:

  • Rest the joint
  • Ice to reduce swelling
  • Compression to support and immobilize the joint
  • Elevate the joint to above the child’s heart

Over-the-counter pain medication can treat pain and swelling, but if these symptoms do not improve after several days, it is time to take your child to a doctor.


A break is the most severe of these injuries, and will require medical attention. Along with pain, swelling, and bruising, your child may also experience difficulty moving the limb, or the inability to put weight on the limb. In some types of breaks, you might be able to see a deformity where the bone has broken or moved out of alignment. If you are concerned that your child has a broken bone, they will likely need an x-ray. Please call your child’s pediatrician if you think your child has broken something.

For additional information or questions, contact your pediatrician.




The information and content on our website should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or advice from your doctor.