R.I.C.E Method for Treating Injuries

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

This post was last updated on July 25, 2016

When it comes to sport and exercise, the possibilityof injury is always present.

Inflammation and pain often occur after injuries to the ankle, knee, or joint. And the well-known R.I.C.E treatment method can help reduce this swelling, relieve pain, and promote flexibility and healing. In fact, R.I.C.E treatment is a mainstay for sports trainers and other athletic health experts.

What Is the R.I.C.E Treatment Method?

R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, and taking these simple steps following a strain, sprain, or other similar injury can help you more quickly recover and get back to everyday activities.

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

Step 1: Rest

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.

Step 2: Ice

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.

Step 3: Compression

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.

Step 4: Elevation

Elevate the injury

R.I.C.E. Recovery

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.

RELATED: Using Ice After Exercise

Seeking Medical Attention After a Sports Injury

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.




Sports Medicine

UPMC Sports Medicine is the region’s largest and most experienced center dedicated to caring for athletes of all levels. For more than 25 years of world-class care, we’re proud to offer more services, have more physicians, and treat more student athletes than any other sports medicine provider in the region. Read More