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Hand Pain in Children: Care Instructions


Common causes of hand pain are overuse and injuries, such as might happen during sports. Everyday wear and tear also can cause hand pain.

Most minor hand injuries will heal on their own, and home treatment is usually all you need to do. If your child has sudden and severe pain, tests and treatment may be needed.

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?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • 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 doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Have your child rest and protect the hand. Have your child take a break from any activity that may cause pain.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's hand for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up the sore hand on a pillow when you ice it or anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • If your doctor recommends a sling, splint, or elastic bandage to support the hand, have your child wear it as directed.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child's hand turns cool or pale or changes colour.

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

  • Your child cannot move their hand.
  • Your child's hand pops, moves out of its normal position, and then returns to its normal position.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the sore area.
    • Pus draining from a place on the hand.
    • A fever.
  • Your child's hand feels numb or tingly.

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 feels unstable when they try to use it.
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as swelling.
  • Bruises from an injury to your child's hand last longer than 2 weeks.

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.