Twists, Strains, and Sprains in Kids

Twists, strains, and sprains in kids can cause extreme discomfort. KidsStreet Urgent Care is here to explain the difference between twists, sprains, and strains in children, typical causes and symptoms, and how to treat and prevent them. 

Knowing The Difference: Twists, Strains, and Sprains

Understanding the differentiation between strains, twists, and sprains in kids can help you better identify and treat the symptoms. 


Sprains most often affect the ankles, knees, and wrists. This condition is characterized by a sudden stretching, twisting, or tearing of a ligament. Spraining generally happens if the child sustains a hard hit or falls. 


Although strains are similar to sprains and the two conditions may be confused,  a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon rather than a ligament. Strains in children are caused by a muscle or tendon being pulled and can be attributed to overuse of the muscle or suddenly overstretching it. 


Twists occur when a child suddenly twists an extremity, such as the arms or legs, and can sometimes result in broken bones. 

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of a sprain, strain, and twist are extremely similar. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling 
  • Tenderness and weakness
  • Bruising, redness, or warmth around the affected area
  • Difficulty moving the injured area 

Keep a close eye on your child’s injury to ensure it does not worsen. 

How To Know If The Injury Is Serious

In most cases, twists, strains, and sprains in kids are not serious conditions and will resolve themselves in a number of days. Your child may have sustained a serious injury if:

  • They have intense bruising
  • Swelling does not go down with the use of medication
  • The child cannot put any weight on the area
  • The child cannot move the injury at all or very poorly
  • The injury does not heal within a week. 

All of these symptoms align with a broken bone or a severely torn muscle, ligament, or tendon. 

Diagnosing Strains, Sprains, and Twists in Kids

These types of injuries are typically easy to diagnose at home, but it may also be a good idea to get medical advice to pinpoint exactly what type of injury it is. 

KidsStreet Urgent Care offers diagnosis and treatment of twists, sprains, and strains in our urgent care services for kids

Pediatric providers can diagnose the injury with a simple exam. During the exam, the provider will look at the injured area as well as feel it and possibly listen to the blood flow via a stethoscope. 

Providers may also perform these tests: 

  • X-ray 
  • MRI to see images of internal tissues
  • CT scan, which shows more detailed images of internal organs than X-rays 

What Are The Treatment Options? 

Depending on the severity of the condition, treating twists, sprains, and strains has varying levels of difficulty. As a rule, you should implement the rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) method. This will help with pain, swelling, and the healing process. 

In addition to the ICE method, other treatment options include: 

  • Pain medicines such as ibuprofen 
  • Taking all pressure off the affected area by using wheelchairs or crutches 
  • Using splints, casts, and removable boots
  • Reducing movement in the area for a number of days 

In more severe cases, children may need physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the injured muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Surgery is typically not needed for these injuries, however, could be required if they have sustained a broken bone. 

Prevention Methods

Children who participate in competitive sports and training are more at risk of sustaining an injury such as a twist, sprain, or strain. In addition to playing sports, kids who often play outside may be at a higher risk of sustaining one of these injuries. 

If your children play sports, make sure they rest from competitive sports at least one to two times a week. This will help to prevent overuse of muscles. 

Additionally, ensure that your child is using their sport as a fun skill, building safety and sportsmanship while playing sports to avoid future injury. This includes utilizing the proper form in all exercises, warming up properly before practice or games, using the correct equipment, and always wearing protective gear respective to their sport. 

Turn To KidsStreet Urgent Care

Has your child sustained a sprain, strain, or twist? KidsStreet is here for you! We want to help your child heal and feel better, FAST!

To visit one of our kid-focused clinics, register online. You will be able to wait from home or your vehicle until we are ready to see you. We’ll send you a text when it’s time to head to the clinic. 

We always welcome walk-ins to our clinic, but please be aware that registering online reduces in-clinic wait times. Walk-ins are added to the same queue as those who register online. 


This office is so nice and effective. The online system is a lifesaver and the time frame is very accurate. The nurses are amazing with my kid, and the doctor was the BEST.

We had a great experience! The staff is kind and accommodating! They offered us free drinks and a blanket for my sick daughter. We will be using this urgent care in the future!

Doctor and staff were absolutely amazing! They took awesome care of my daughter. Actually, they went over and beyond for her care.

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