Sprain, strain: Words any parent is bound to hear at least once or twice. What’s the difference? Well, they can both mean there’s a stretch or tear around a joint – it’s just a matter of where:
- A sprain’s in a ligament (bone connector)
- A strain’s in a muscle or tendon (muscle-bone connector).
Kids can get either one after a fall on the sports field. But with strains, there’s an extra layer – they can actually get one just from overuse (like gripping a gymnastics bar or tennis racket). Get it checked out if their pain is severe – but if not, here’s how to help give them pain relief, fast:
- For the first 24-48 hours, think R.I.C.E. Help your kids:
R = Rest the joint, and keep weight off of it.
I = Ice the area to ease swelling.
C = Compress the joint by wearing an elasticized support bandage from the drugstore.
E = Elevate it – keep it up above their heart, especially when they sleep.
Once they’re back in action, help prevent their next injury:
- Encourage a pre-game warm-up. A light version of what they’re about to do (e.g. a light jog before running) is a good start. Then, moving exercises like walking leg kicks or pulling knee-to-chest will get them ready to play.
- Make sure they’ve got proper safety gear on. That can mean helmets, wrist pads or knee pads, to name a few.