Sprains/Strains :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Sprains and Strains

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are a stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the ankle.  Ankle sprains are common among active children and can range in severity from mild to severe.  These are often caused by landing awkwardly on your foot such as stepping in a hole or stepping on another person’s foot.  Usually the ankle “rolls inward” causing pain on the outside of the foot and ankle.  In more severe cases the child may complain of hearing or feeling a “pop”.  Those suffering from an ankle sprain may experience pain and swelling around the foot and ankle and may have to walk with a limp.  Initial treatment for an ankle sprain should include rest, icing the affected area for 20 minutes; apply a compression wrap, and elevating the area to control swelling.  If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

Foot Sprain/Strain

A sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligaments that connect the bones of the foot. A strain is a stretching or tearing of the tendons and muscles in the foot. These structures often overlap in the body and are injured the same way. A sprain/strain occurs most often from a twisting or turning of the ankle or foot, resulting in pain and swelling and inability to bear weight on the affected side. Initial treatment includes activity modification, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If there is pain directly over the bones in the area – caution must be taken to rule out an associated fracture. If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

Hamstring Strain

A hamstring strain is a stretching or tearing of the hamstring muscles located in the back of the thigh.  Hamstring strains are usually caused by a quick contraction or over-stretching of these muscles.  An acute hamstring strain may cause immediate pain in the back of the thigh, loss of range-of-motion and strength and make it difficult to walk.  Sometimes a “pop” or “snap” if felt in the back of the thigh when the injury occurs.  The initial treatment for a hamstring strain includes rest, icing for 20 minutes, compression of the thigh, and elevation.  If walking is painful – crutches are often recommended to allow for optimal healing.  Once the pain has subsided, light stretching and strengthening of the hamstring muscles must begin, progressing slowly to jogging and then running activities.  Returning to full activity with sprinting to soon is likely to cause re-injury to those healing muscles.  If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

Knee Sprain

Knee sprains can be significant injuries that occur from a stretch or tear of the ligaments in and around the knee. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect your bones and create stability for the joint.  The four main ligaments of the knee most often damaged are the Anterior Cruciate (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate (PCL) ligaments located inside the knee joint, the Medial Collateral (MCL) and Lateral Collateral (LCL) ligaments located on the sides of the knee.  Knee Sprains can be caused by a non-contact twisting of the knee or from a direct blow to the area.  The signs and symptoms include increased pain, swelling, weakness, a pop sensation upon initial injury, and a feeling of the knee “giving out” while standing or walking.  The initial treatment includes activity modification, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  These injuries can range in severity and if you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine. 

Low Back Strain

A low back strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle in the lower back that holds the vertebrae in its proper place.  A low back strain can occur from lifting heavy objects, sitting or standing for long periods of time, a direct blow to the area, or a movement involving an abrupt twist or hyperextension.  Low back pain can cause a great deal of pain and stiffness and loss or limited range of motion.  In severe cases this pain can radiate down to the buttocks and legs.  Initial treatment includes activity modification, Rest, and Ice for the first 48-72 hours.  Heat may be introduced after 72 hours.  If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

Shoulder Sprain/Separation

 A shoulder sprain is a stretching or tearing of the Acromioclavicular (A.C.) ligament located where your “collar bone” and shoulder meet.  An AC sprain usually occurs from a direct blow to the area, falling on an outstretched arm/hand, or landing directly on the shoulder itself.  Symptoms include pain at the joint, swelling, sometimes a deformity, decreased range of motion and stiffness.  The initial treatment includes Rest, Ice, and sometimes immobilization in a sling.  If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

Thigh/Hip Strain

A strain is a stretching or tearing of a muscle and is commonly referred to as a “pulled muscle”.  A thigh strain can involve the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh or the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh. A hip strain commonly involves the hip flexor muscles located at the bend of the leg above the thigh and below the waist.  These strains can be caused by forceful muscle contractions during activities such as running or jumping and may be a result of poor flexibility.  Symptoms include a pulling sensation when injury occurs, followed by pain when walking, bending or lifting the leg. In severe injuries swelling and bruising may occur.  The initial treatment includes activity modification, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  Be careful not to overstretch the healing muscle.  If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

Wrist/Hand Sprain

A sprain of the wrist/hand is a stretching or tearing of ligaments which connect the bones together and provide stability.  A wrist sprain may occur from a direct blow to the area, a fall on an outstretched arm/hand, or contact that causes the wrist to forcefully bend in one direction.  Symptoms include increased pain in the area, swelling, decreased motion and stiffness.  The initial treatment includes activity modification, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  If there is pain and tenderness over boney structures – caution must be taken to rule out a fracture.   If you are uncertain about the nature of your condition or your condition does not improve with conservative treatment please contact your primary care provider or for more specialized care contact Children’s Sports Medicine.

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