Hand Sprain in Children: Care Instructions

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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 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.
  • Allow your child to return to their usual level of activity slowly.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor 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 color.
  • 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 if:

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

Where can you learn more?

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

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.