My Child Has... Article

My Child Has...

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Bone, Muscle, or Joint Injury: Brief Version


You can take care of most muscle strain at home. You can treat bruised muscles at home. If your child gets a bruise on a joint (the knee, hip, or elbow), most of the time it is not serious.

Broken bones need care by a doctor. Twisting injuries of the ligaments between the muscles (called sprains) also need a doctor's care.

How can I care for my child's pulled or sore muscles?

Here are ways you can help:

  • Put an ice bag or cold pack on the sore muscles for 20 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 4 times the first day.
  • Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for at least 2 days to relieve pain.
  • If the muscle is still stiff after 48 hours, have your child soak in a hot bath for 20 minutes. If the pain is in one certain area, use a heating pad or hot, wet washcloth. Apply heat for 10 minutes, 3 times a day until the pain goes away.
  • Have your child do stretching exercises. Have your child get back to exercise a little at a time.

How can I care for my child's bruised muscle or bone?

  • Put an ice bag or cold pack on the area for 20 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 4 times the first day. After 48 hours, apply heat with a heating pad or hot, wet washcloths for 10 minutes, 3 times a day.
  • Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for severe pain.
  • Make sure your child rests as much as he or she can for the first 2 days.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The pain does not get better in 3 days.
  • The pain is not gone by 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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