Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation


treating injuriesThe R.I.C.E. method for treating injuries is an essential remedy for athletes and people who exercise to stay fit. Not only does this treatment method hasten the healing and recovery of musculoskeletal injuries, but it also alleviates symptoms such as swelling, pain, and inflammation.

So, whether you are dealing with a pulled hamstring, muscle contusion, sprained ankle, joint dislocation, or any other musculoskeletal injury, the R.I.C.E. technique offers the best chance of a speedy recovery as well as a comfortable recuperation period. Keep reading to learn more about how to administer R.I.C.E. treatment.


1. Rest:

Resting of the affected area is the first and most important part of the R.I.C.E. treatment method. Through proper rest, injury is prevented from getting worse and healing is initiated. Generally, 24 to 48 hours of rest should be enough; however, it is essential that you rest until you can resume using the injured body part without experiencing increased pain or swelling.

Rest in this case does not only mean laying on a couch or bed for days. For mild injuries, rest can include avoiding any activity that puts weight onto the injured part. The use of crutches, protective braces, or slings, can help make it easier to rest the injured area and still continue carrying out normal everyday activities.


2. Ice:

Applying ice over the injured area helps make a musculoskeletal injury more bearable by reducing swelling, pain, bruising, and any other available symptoms such as muscle spasms, burning sensation, etc. Experts recommend keeping a light towel or clothing between the ice pack and skin to prevent frostbite and icing the injured area for short intervals of time (10 to 20 minutes)
to avoid tissue damage.

To ensure the best results, begin applying ice immediately after the injury. This helps to significantly minimize swelling and can even prevent the injured area from swelling in some cases. Icing injured area should then continue for up to 48 hours after injury in the form of 3 to 4 sessions per day lasting 20-minutes each.


3. Compression:

Wrapping the injured area with compression or elastic bandage helps to decrease swelling, bruising, and internal bleeding if there is any. The bandage should be carefully wrapped around the injured area in a nice snug fit that allows proper circulation. Numbness, tingling sensation, increased swelling, pain, and color change in the surrounding area, are all signs that the bandage is too tight and therefore needs to be adjusted. Depending on the severity of the injury, a compression wrap should be left for 3 to 7 days following an injury.


4. Elevation:

Raising the injured area to a level above your heart prevents swelling from getting worse, reduces bruising, and stops further internal bleeding. There is basically no given guideline to how long the injured area should be elevated. Therefore, you can make it a point to elevate the injured part whenever you find yourself sitting or lying down until the injury is completely healed.


For minor injuries, the R.I.C.E. form of treatment works very effectively and is quite fast-acting that it yields significant results within the first 48 hours of use. Therefore, it is advisable to visit a doctor if R.I.C.E. treatment does not deliver any results after 72 hours of application. In such cases, the injury might be more serious than you think.