Foot Pain in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Foot injuries that cause pain and swelling are fairly common. Many activities that children do, including most types of sports, can cause a misstep that ends up as foot pain.

Most minor foot injuries will heal on their own, and home treatment is usually all you need to do. If your child has a severe injury, he or she may need tests and 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?

  • 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 foot. Have your child take a break from any activity that may cause pain.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's foot for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up the sore foot 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.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you wrap your child's foot with an elastic bandage. Keep the foot wrapped for as long as your doctor advises.
  • If your doctor recommends crutches, help your child use them as directed.
  • Have your child wear roomy footwear.
  • As soon as pain and swelling end, have your child begin gentle foot exercises. Your doctor can tell you which exercises will help.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child's foot turns pale, white, blue, or cold.

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

  • Your child cannot move or stand on his or her foot.
  • Your child's foot looks twisted or out of its normal position.
  • Your child's foot is not stable when he or she steps down.
  • 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 foot.
    • A fever.
  • Your child's foot is numb or tingly.

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.
  • Your child has bruises from an injury that last longer than 2 weeks.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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