Be a R.I.C.E. Agent: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation

What’s the first thing you should do when dealing with an injury? Well, if it’s a severe injury in need of immediate attention, head to the emergency room. If it’s a minor injury, such as a runner’s knee or a mild twisted ankle, the first steps are always rest, ice, compression, and elevation﹘ R.I.C.E..

 

R.I.C.E. is a go-to mode of treatment for just about any injury, so let’s take a look at how you can use the R.I.C.E. method at home.

 

Rest. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. Many people see pushing through pain as a good thing, but that’s simply not the case. If you feel persistent pain during an activity, stop immediately. Aggravating an injury will simply make it worse and prolong the healing process.

 

Try to rest as much as possible in the first couple of days after an injury. I recommend putting little or no weight on the injured area during this time. This will prevent some swelling and bruising.

 

Ice. Redness and swelling around an injury are signs of inflammation. Ice happens to be one of the best anti-inflammatory treatments out there. It reduces both pain and swelling.

 

While resting, try putting an ice pack covered with a light, absorbent towel on your injury for twenty minutes at a time with twenty minute breaks in between. The twenty-minute intervals and towel prevent blistering and frostbite. I recommend patients do this for one or two hours at a time. If you don’t have a proper ice pack handy, you can use ice in zip-top plastic bag or a bag of frozen vegetables like peas or corn.

 

Compression. After you’ve iced the area for an hour or two, it’s time to add compression. I would just use a typical ACE bandage to wrap the affected area. The key is to wrap it tight enough so that there’s a sufficient amount of pressure but not so much that you cut off your circulation. If your extremities below the affected area go numb or start to turn blue, the bandage is too tight and should be loosened.

 

Elevation. The last step in the R.I.C.E. treatment method is to elevate the injured area. This means making sure that it is kept higher than the level of the heart. This lets gravity do the work, and allows any extra fluids to drain away from the affected area. While sitting or laying down, you can use pillows to prop up the injury. Be sure to do this while you ice the injury as well.

 

Additions. Along with the R.I.C.E. method, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help alleviate pain, swelling, and inflammation.  These include Advil, Aleve, and Tylenol. Be sure to take the recommended dose at the right intervals so you don’t hurt your stomach.

 

All of these guidelines should put you on the path to a speedy recovery. R.I.C.E. will have you back in the game in no time! If your pain persists, call to set up an appointment, and we’ll find a treatment plan that works for you.