R.I.C.E. Method for Treating an Injury

WRITTEN BY: Sports Medicine
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

As the seasons change, sports and exercising continue. And as your workouts continue, so does the possibility of an injury. If you injure your ankle, knee, or joint, there is typically a period of inflammation that occurs afterwards. The R.I.C.E. method may be used to reduce swelling, relieve pain, and promote flexibility and healing. Applying R.I.C.E. to your strains, sprains, and injuries can help you recover, and get you back to everyday activity.

Learn more about how to treat your injuries with the R.I.C.E. method by reading the steps below.


Rest the injury

Immediately rest the affected area as much as possible. Experts recommend 24 to 48 hours of no weight-bearing activities. Continued use of a moderate or severely sprained ankle can delay healing, increase pain, or even worsen the injury. With a mild sprain, activity is generally tolerated after 24 to 48 hours of rest.


Ice the injury

To help reduce pain and swelling during the first 48 hours after injury, ice the area 20 minutes at a time every 4 hours, using an ice pack covered in a towel. If you don’t have an ice pack handy, an alternative would be to use a bag of frozen peas, corn, or other veggies. Try not to ice the injury for more than 20 minutes at a time, as it may actually cause further tissue damage.


Compress the injury

Using an elastic medical bandage, wrap the area to help decrease swelling and internal bleeding (if present). The wrap should be snug, but make sure you have proper circulation. Some signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling. If you think you need to use the wrap for more than 48 to 72 hours, you may have a more serious issue that requires prompt medical attention.


Elevate the injury

Raise your ankle above the level of your hip (or heart) as much as possible throughout the first 24 hours after injury. Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows while lying down, and apply ice at the same time, as needed.

While using the R.I.C.E. method, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help to reduce swelling and pain. With these tips, a sprain, strain, or other minor injury can be easily treated and get you back in the game as soon as possible.

If you have are not sure of the severity of your injury, be sure to consult your physician before beginning any sort of treatment regimen. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine experts, visit UPMCSportsMedicine.com, or call 1-855-93-SPORT.

Let us know if you’ve used the R.I.C.E. method before! If so, do you have any tips or tricks to make it more effective?


Sports Medicine

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