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What Is the RICE Method for Injuries?

If you've ever sprained your ankle or suffered from any form of sprain or strain, chances are your doctor advised you to start with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). The RICE method is a basic self-care procedure that aids in swelling reduction, pain relief, and recovery.

Minor injuries can be treated at home using the RICE approach. If you have an achy knee, ankle, or wrist after playing sports, you should try it. Consult a doctor if your pain or swelling worsens or does not go away.

The RICE method includes the following four steps:

Step 1: Rest

Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is amiss. Stop all activities and rest as much as possible for the first two days if you are injured. Don't strive to live by the "no pain, no gain" principle. Doing so with some injuries, such as a moderate to severe ankle sprain, might aggravate the injury and prolong your recovery. Doctors recommend that you avoid placing any weight on the affected region for 24 to 48 hours. Resting also aids in the prevention of additional bruising.

Step 2: Ice

Ice has long been used to relieve pain and swelling.

During the first 24 to 48 hours following your accident, apply an ice pack (wrapped with a light, absorbent towel to assist avoid frostbite) for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours.

Do you lack an ice pack? A package of frozen peas or corn will suffice.

Step 3: Compression

Wrapping the damaged region to avoid swelling is what this entails. Wrap an elastic medical bandage across the damaged region (like an ACE bandage).

It should be snug but not too tight; too tight will interfere with blood flow.

Loosen the bandage if the skin beneath the wrap becomes blue or feels cold, numb, or tingling.

Seek quick medical attention if these symptoms do not go away.

Treatments Used With RICE

Your doctor may advise you to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) in addition to the RICE therapy. These are accessible without a prescription and over the counter. Before using any drugs, discuss your medical history with your doctor.

References/Source: Borra, V., De Buck, E., & Vandekerckhove, P. (2015, October 3–7). RICE or ice: what does the evidence say? The evidence base for first aid treatment of sprains and strains
Hock, L. (2011, August 3). Injured? the good, the bad, and the must-do
Jam, B. (2014, May 20). Questioning the use of ice given inflammation is a perfectly healthy response following acute musculoskeletal injuries
Laumonier, T., & Menetrey, J. (2016, July 22). Muscle injuries and strategies for improving their repair. Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics, 3(15)
Sheu, Y., Chen, L.-H., & Hedegard, H. (2016, November 18). Sports- and recreation-related injury episodes in the United States, 2011–2014. National Health Statistics Report, 2011–2014, (99)
Sprains and strains. (2015, January 30)
van den Bekerom, M. P. J., Struijs, P. A. A., Blankevoort, L., Welling, L., van Dijk, C. N., & Kerkhoffs, G. M. M. J. (2012, August). What is the evidence for rest, ice, compression, and elevation therapy in the treatment of ankle sprains in adults? Journal of Athletic Training, 47(4), 435–443

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