Bone, Muscle, and Joint Injury

Brief Version

You can take care of most muscle strain at home. You can even treat bruised muscles at home. If your child gets a bruise on a joint (the knee, hip, or elbow), most of the time it is not serious.

Broken bones need care by a doctor. Twisting injuries of the ligaments between the muscles (called sprains) also need a doctor's care.

How can I care for my child's pulled or sore muscles?

Here are ways you can help:

  • Put an ice bag or cold pack on the sore muscles for 20 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 4 times the first day.
  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for at least 2 days.
  • If the muscle is still stiff after 48 hours, have your child soak in a hot bath for 20 minutes. If the pain is in one certain area, use a heating pad or hot, wet washcloth. Apply heat for 10 minutes, three times a day until the pain goes away.
  • Have your child do stretching exercises. Have your child get back to exercise a little at a time.

How can I care for my child's bruised muscle or bone?

  • Put an ice bag or cold pack on the area for 20 minutes. Repeat this 3 to 4 times the first day. After 48 hours, apply heat with a heating pad or hot, wet washcloths for 10 minutes, three times a day.
  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Make sure your child rests as much as he or she can for the first 2 days.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The pain is not getting better by the third day.
  • The pain is not gone by 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2005-03-15
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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