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Finger Sprain in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A sprain is an injury to the tough fibres (ligaments) that connect bone to bone. This injury can happen in joints such as in your child's finger.

Some sprains stretch the ligaments but do not tear them. More severe sprains can partially or completely tear the ligaments.

Rest and home treatment can help your child heal. Your doctor may have taped the injured finger to the one next to it or put a splint on the finger to keep it in position while it heals. Your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen your child's finger. If your child damaged bones or muscles, he or she may need more treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your doctor put a splint on the finger, have your child wear the splint as directed. Do not remove it until your doctor says it is okay.
  • If your child's fingers are taped together, make sure the tape is snug but not so tight that the fingers get numb or tingle. You can loosen the tape if it is too tight. If you need to retape your child's fingers, always put padding between the fingers before putting on the new tape.
  • Limit your child's use of the finger to motions or activities that do not cause pain.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's finger for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up your child's hand on a pillow when your child ices it or anytime he or she sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Have your child try to keep it above the level of the heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • If your doctor recommends it, give anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to reduce pain and swelling. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor recommends exercises, help your child do them as directed.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child's finger is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child's finger is tingly, weak, or numb.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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