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Foot Sprain in Children: Care Instructions

The foot

Your Care Instructions

A foot sprain occurs when you stretch or tear the ligaments around your foot. Ligaments are the tough tissues that connect one bone to another. A sprain can happen when your child runs, falls, or hits his or her toe against something. Sprains often happen when a child jumps or changes direction quickly. This may occur when your child plays basketball, soccer, or other sports.

Most foot sprains will get better 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?

  • Let your child walk or put weight on the sprained foot as long as it does not hurt.
  • If your doctor gave your child a splint or immobilizer, have your child wear it as directed. If your child was given crutches, have him or her use them as directed.
  • For the first 2 days after your child's injury, have your child avoid hot showers, hot tubs, or hot packs. They may increase swelling.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's foot 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 water bottle or a warm cloth on your child's foot. This helps keep your child's foot flexible. Some doctors suggest that you go back and forth between hot and cold treatments. Keep a cloth between the warm water bottle 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.
  • Be safe with medicines. 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.
  • Help your child do any exercises that your doctor or physiotherapist suggests.
  • Have your child return to his or her usual exercise gradually as he or she feels better.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has increased or severe pain.
  • Your child's toes are cool or pale or change colour.
  • Your child's wrap or splint feels too tight.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in his or her leg or foot.

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

  • Your child cannot put any weight on the foot.
  • Your child gets a fever.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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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.