Learn more about the RICE method

When it comes to sports and exercise, the possibility of 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 swelling, relieve pain, and promote flexibility and healing. In fact, RICE treatment is a mainstay for sports trainers and other athletic health experts.

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What Is the RICE Treatment Method?

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Taking these simple steps after a strain, sprain, or other similar injury can help you recover more quickly and get back to everyday activities faster.

Learn more about how to treat your injuries with the RICE method by reading the steps below.

Step 1: Rest

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

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 or 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

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 medical attention.

Step 4: Elevation

Raise the injured body part above heart level so that gravity can move fluids away from the injured area.

RICE Recovery

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

RELATED: Using Ice After Exercise

Seeking Medical Attention After A Sports Injury

If you are unsure of your injury’s severity, consult your primary care provider first before beginning any sort of treatment regimen. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a sports medicine expert, visit UPMCSportsMedicine.com.

Editor's Note: This video was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.