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  • Leg Injury

    Definition

    • Injuries to the leg (hip to toes)
    • Injuries to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament
    • Muscle pain caused by too much exercise (overuse) is covered in Leg Pain

    FIRST AID for Bleeding:

    • Put a gauze pad or clean cloth on top of the wound.
    • Press down firmly on the place that is bleeding.
    • This is called direct pressure. It is the best way to stop bleeding.
    • Keep using pressure until the bleeding stops.
    • If bleeding does not stop, press on a slightly different spot.

    FIRST AID for Suspected Fracture or Dislocation:

    • Put the leg or joint on a hard splint so it does not move. You can use a small board, magazine folded in half, or folded up newspaper.
    • Tie a few cloth strips around the leg or joint to keep the splint from moving.
    • A second choice is to use a soft splint. Wrap the leg or joint in a soft splint so it does not move. You can use a pillow, a rolled-up blanket, or a towel. Use tape to keep this splint in place.

    Types of Leg Injuries

    • Fractures (broken bones)
    • Dislocations (bone out of joint)
    • Sprains – stretches and tears of ligaments. A sprained ankle is the most common ligament injury of the leg. It’s usually caused by turning the ankle inward. The main symptoms are pain and swelling of the outside of the ankle.
    • Strains – stretches and tears of muscles (a pulled muscle)
    • Muscle overuse injuries from sports or exercise (such as shin splints of lower leg)
    • Muscle bruise from a direct blow (like thigh muscles)
    • Bone bruise from a direct blow (like on the hip)

    Pain Scale

    • Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
    • Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
    • Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.

    When to Call Us for Leg Injury

    Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If:

    • Major bleeding that can’t be stopped. See FIRST AID.
    • Serious injury with many broken bones
    • Bone is sticking through the skin
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Us Now (night or day) If:

    • You think your child has a serious injury
    • Looks like a broken bone
    • Looks like a dislocated joint
    • Large swelling
    • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
    • Age under 1 year old
    • Bicycle spoke injury
    • Pain is SEVERE and not better 2 hours after taking pain medicine
    • Won’t stand or walk
    • Has a limp when walking
    • Can’t move hip, knee or ankle normally
    • Knee injury with a “snap” or “pop” felt at the time of impact
    • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

    Call Us Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If:

    • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
    • Very large bruise or swelling
    • Pain not better after 3 days

    Call Us During Weekday Office Hours If:

    • You have other questions or concerns
    • Injury limits sports or school work
    • No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts
    • No tetanus shot in over 10 years for CLEAN cuts
    • Pain lasts more than 2 weeks

    Parent Care at Home If:

    • Bruised muscle or bone from direct blow
    • Pain in muscle from minor pulled muscle
    • Pain around joint from minor stretched ligament

    Care Advice for Leg Injuries

    What You Should Know:

    • During sports, muscles and bones get bruised.
    • Muscles get stretched.
    • These injuries can be treated at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.

    Treatment of Pulled Muscle, Bruised Muscle or Bruised Bone:

    • Pain Medicine. To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table. Ibuprofen works better for this type of pain.
    • Cold Pack. For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on the sore muscles for 20 minutes. Repeat 4 times on the first day, then as needed. Reason: Helps with the pain and helps stop any bleeding. Caution: Avoid frostbite.
    • Heat Pack. If pain lasts over 2 days, put heat on the sore muscle. Use a heat pack, heating pad or warm wet washcloth. Do this for 10 minutes, then as needed. Caution: Avoid burns. For stiffness all over, use a hot bath instead. Move the sore leg muscles under the warm water.
    • Rest. Rest the injured part as much as possible for 48 hours.
    • For pulled muscles, teach your youngster about stretching and strength training.

    Treatment of Mild Sprains (stretched ligaments) of Ankle or Knee:

    • First Aid: Apply ice now to reduce bleeding, swelling, and pain. Wrap with an elastic bandage.
    • Treat with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for the first 24 to 48 hours.
    • Apply compression with a snug, elastic bandage for 48 hours. Numbness, tingling, or increased pain means the bandage is too tight.
    • Cold Pack: For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on the ankle or knee for 20 minutes. Repeat 4 times on the first day, then as needed. Reason: Helps with the pain and helps stop any bleeding. Caution: Avoid frostbite.
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table. Continue for at least 48 hours.
    • Keep the injured ankle or knee elevated and at rest for 24 hours.
    • After 24 hours, allow any activity that doesn’t cause pain.

    What to Expect:

    • Pain and swelling usually peak on day 2 or 3.
    • Most often, swelling is gone in 7 days.
    • Pain may take 2 weeks to fully go away.

    Call Your Doctor If:

    • Pain becomes severe
    • Pain is not better after 3 days
    • Pain lasts more than 2 weeks
    • Your child becomes worse

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

    Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
    Copyright 1994-2013 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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