As part of our “We’re Sports Nuts” series, we wanted to address another problem that you or your athletic child may face: a damaged ligament.
Known as a sprain, it is a tear or stretch in the fibrous tissue bands that connect bones at the joints. Somewhat related is a strain, which is a stretch or tear of the muscle or tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone). In any case, the pain from such an injury can range from annoying to nearly debilitating. Obviously, pain is one sign of a sprain or strain, but bruising and inflammation may also appear.
Mild cases are often treated at home using rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known by the acronym RICE). A physician should see more severe cases of sprains and strains. Keep in mind, some sprains or strains may only cause mild pain at first, but then become more severe over time. If pain and swelling do not go away within one to three days, see a doctor.
Although x-rays are useful to look for broken bones associated with your injury, you should consider MSK ultrasound (MSK US). This exam does not use radiation and captures images of the damaged area in real-time. This allows the radiologist and your doctor to see the effect of the sprain or strain on the muscles & tendons, as well as organs and blood flow.
We have radiologists specialized in MSK US who will provide a comprehensive report to your doctor about the injury so they can plan the proper treatment.
MSK US is a painless exam, usually completed in 15 to 30 minutes, requires no special preparation, and does not use radiation – so it’s safer for children. To learn more, visit our main MSK ultrasound page.