SPRAIN: The stretching of a ligament with the possibility of some degree of tissue tearing

STRAIN: The stretching of a muscle or tendon with the possibility of some degree of tissue tearing.

CONTUSION: Due to tissue compression which causes damage to blood vessels within the tissue and the formation of a hematoma (bruise).

*X-ray for significant injury or if not improving days 4-5 after injury. Physical Therapy if significant swelling or need to return to competitive athletics.*

A = analgesia

  • Pain relief
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

A = anti-inflammatory

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, store brand)
  • Dosed every 6 to 8 hours and must be given with food or milk to avoid upset stomach

P = protection/support

  • Extra padding
  • Splints or braces for certain injuries
  • Ace bandage
  • Neoprene or spandex joint support for all
  • Activity for several weeks!!

R = rest!

  • Avoid sports and activities that will aggravate or re-injure the body
  • Do not resume activities until pain-free to walk

I = ice

  • Apply to the injury as often as needed, especially during the first 24-48 hours; and continue 3-4 times daily until swelling is gone; then switch to heat. Be sure to have towel/cloth between heat/ice and skin.

C = compression

  • Wrap with ace bandage or other elastic braces

E = elevation

    Keep injured area elevated on pillow when sitting or laying down whenever possible until swelling is gone (24-72hours)


  • Any numbness, tingling, or weakness of extremities
  • For ankles: Extreme tenderness to ankle bone
  • Child not able to bear weight or still with significant limping after 2 to 3 days
  • Significant swelling, tenderness, and pain with movement after 2 to 3 days 
  • Not showing some improvement daily

Updated: July 2005

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