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Hand Sprain in Children: Care Instructions


A hand sprain occurs when a ligament gets stretched or torn in your child's hand. Ligaments are the tough tissues that connect one bone to another. Most hand sprains will heal with treatment at home.

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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 the doctor gave your child a splint or immobilizer, have your child wear it as directed. This will help keep swelling down and help your child's hand heal.
  • Help your child follow the doctor's directions for exercise and other activity.
  • For the first 2 days after your child's injury, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, or hot packs.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's hand for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to stop swelling. Try this every 1 to 2 hours for 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your child's skin. Keep your child's splint dry.
  • After 2 or 3 days, if the swelling is gone, put a warm cloth on your child's hand. Some experts suggest that you go back and forth between hot and cold treatments.
  • Prop up your child's hand on a pillow when icing it or anytime your child sits or lies down. Have your child try to keep it above the level of the heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your child's doctor if you can give an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Allow your child to return to their usual level of activity slowly.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child's pain is worse.
  • Your child has new or increased swelling in the hand.
  • Your child cannot move the hand.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand or fingers.
  • Your child's hand or fingers are cool or pale or change colour.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's hand or fingers are red.

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

  • Your child's hand does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.