A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament (LIG-uh-munt) or muscle tendon near a joint. Symptoms include pain when moving or putting weight on the affected joint, rapid swelling, tenderness when touched, bruising, and loss of movement. There also may be a bluish discoloration. If the pain is severe, swelling doesn't decrease after 24 hours, the injured part doesn't function, or circulation is affected in other parts of the body, seek medical aid. Rest and elevate the injured area as much as possible for 24 hours, in order to help reduce swelling. Ice or cold packs also can help decrease swelling and pain, but use them for no more than 20 or 30 minutes each hour, and don't place ice directly on the skin. An elastic wrap or loose bandage also can help with the swelling and pain. Don't give a child aspirin to relieve the pain; instead, use a children's aspirin substitute or other medication on advice of a doctor. Keep the child's weight off the injured parts. Normal activity should be resumed slowly, when the pain is almost gone, with vigorous activity resumed gradually. It may be difficult to determine whether there's a broken bone, so if one is suspected, contact a physician or take the child to an emergency room.
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