Introduction to RICE
As illustrated above, RICE is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is a First Aid treatment, or to say, a remedial protocol for an acute (sudden) musculoskeletal (or soft tissue) injury.
Significance of RICE in and for injury
It is a self-care method to simply to reduce any pain, swelling or bruising that may occur after an musculoskeletal injury. Moreover, it can be used as a treatment itself for small injuries. It may speed up the recovery process and improve blood flow and flexibility to the affected area, R I C E has been a standard medical practice for self-manageable soft-tissue injuries.
Types of Acute Musculoskeletal Injuries that RICE is effective for;
- Sprain or Strain
- A minor bone injury
- Sports injury
- Degenerative joint complications
More specifically, medical protocols also recommend RICE for injured knee, injured wrist, foot injury, ankle injury, hamstring injuries, etc.
When injured, RICE can be implemented by the following methods; (RICE when Injured)
Healing an injury, firstly requires rest. Without rest, the injured area if exposed to more unnecessary movement and load bearing, the injury itself or inflammation may aggravate. A minimum of 48 hours of rest is advised. Mobility aids can come in handy to isolate the injury from any sort of load or movement.
Topical massaging of ice has anti-inflammatory properties as well as it actively reduces pain. Most benefits of icing can be reaped if applied within the first hour after injury has occured.
It is advised to rub ice on the affected area for around 20 minutes and repeating it every hour or two. Cold packs or Gel packs can be utilized for icing.
Avoid leaving the Cold/Gel pack on the skin for too long as it can result in skin damage or worse, Ice burn. After a massage session, let the area warm up again before re-applying the cold pack.
Initially compressing an injured area helps control the swelling. Elastic bandages such as ACE wraps are a viable option, especially for injuries at joints. Moreover, your healthcare provider may advice wearing an air cast, special boots or splints for compression.
Avoid wearing compression gear too tightly, as it may restrict blood flow and impede recovery.
Elevating the injured area above the heart level (if applicable), provides a downward path for fluid to drain down to heart. This helps to reduce swelling and pain.