How to Treat an Injury: R.I.C.E. Method

As soon as possible after an injury, strain or sprain, you can relieve pain, reduce swelling and promote healing and flexibility with RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You can treat minor injuries with the RICE method at home. If you have pain or swelling that gets worse or doesn’t go away, see a doctor.

The RICE method includes the following four steps:

Step 1: Rest

As soon as you’re hurt, stop your activity, and rest as much as possible for the first 2 days. Not following this step can make the damage worse and delay your recovery. It is also recommended that you avoid putting weight on the injured area for 24 to 48 hours. Resting also helps prevent further bruising.

Step 2: Ice

Using ice on the injury site can help reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice pack (covered with a light, absorbent towel to help prevent frostbite) for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours during the first 24 to 48 hours after your injury. 

Step 3: Compression

This means wrapping the injured area to prevent swelling. You want it to be snug but not too tight -- if it’s too tight, it’ll interrupt blood flow. If the skin below the wrap turns blue or feels cold, numb, or tingly, loosen the bandage. If these symptoms don’t disappear right away, seek immediate medical help.

Step 4: Elevation

This means raising the sore body part above the level of your heart. Doing so reduces pain, throbbing, and swelling. It is recommended that you keep the injured area raised whenever possible, even when you’re not icing it.

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