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Sprains and Broken Bones in Kids and Teens: What Parents Need to Know

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Our kids and teens are naturally active and adventurous. It is no surprise that accidents and injuries occur. Sprains and broken bones are among the most common injuries seen at KidMed. As a concerned parent, it is essential to understand the causes, symptoms, and available treatments for these injuries so that your child can be on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

What are sprains and broken bones?

A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. Ligaments are fibrous tissue that holds bones together at joints.

A broken bone, also known as a fracture, happens when the bone cracks or breaks.

Causes of sprains and broken bones in children

  • Falls from heights such as climbing on playground equipment or trees.
  • Sports-related injuries, often in contact sports and sports involving running or jumping. Accidents during normal play.
  • Tripping over objects or uneven surfaces.
  • Car accidents or other forms of trauma.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of sprains and broken bones


  • Swelling and tenderness in the region of a joint.
  • Pain or discomfort with moving a joint.
  • Bruising around a joint.
  • Limited mobility at a joint.
  • Difficulty or inability to bear weight on an injured limb.


  • Obvious deformity along a bone.
  • Swelling, bruising, and tenderness along a bone.
  • Pain when moving a limb.
  • Inability to move a limb.
  • Infrequently, a snapping or popping sound at the time of injury.

Immediate care for sprains and broken bones

  • Rest the injured limb.
  • Do not put weight or pressure on the injured limb.
  • Apply ice to the injured area.
  • Consider a compressive dressing like an ACE wrap to help limit swelling.
  • Elevate the injured area above heart level to limit swelling.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Seek medical attention if pain or symptoms are concerning.
  • Immobilize the injured area with a home splint or rolled-up newspaper.
  • Apply ice to the injured area.
  • Elevate the injured area above heart level to limit swelling.
  • Do not attempt to straighten out any obvious angulation or deformity.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Do not give your child any food or liquids if surgery is required.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

If your child has an injury, visit a pediatric urgent care center or a pediatric emergency department. Pediatric urgent care centers can manage most sprains and broken bones.

If your child has an open fracture (broken end of bone sticking out through the skin) or a significant angulation/deformity to the bone, then bring them to a pediatric emergency department.

Initial care for your injured child at a pediatric urgent care center or pediatric emergency department include a thorough physical examination, X-rays, and pain control.


Immobilization of a broken/fractured limb with either EXOS thermoformable or fiberglass splint (both options are available at KidMed) or plaster casting.

Immobilization of a broken finger or toe:

  • Broken finger
  • EXOS Thermoformable splint or aluminum-foam finger splint.

Broken toe:

  • Buddy taping and post-op shoe or orthopedic boot
  • Referral to a pediatric orthopedic specialist for realignment or reduction of angulated or displaced bones.
  • Possible surgery for more complex fractures.
  • Referral to a pediatric orthopedist for follow-up care.

By understanding the basics of sprains and broken bones in kids and teens, parents can be better prepared to handle these injuries. Remember, early recognition, appropriate initial care, and seeking medical attention at KidMed or a pediatric emergency department can quickly get your child back to their active and adventurous self.

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