R.I.C.E. treatment is a simple DIY protocol that is recommended for any soft tissue injury where there is swelling and pain. We are all susceptible to soft tissue injuries (those that affect muscles, tendons and ligaments), sometimes caused by participation in sports but also often sustained during everyday activities. Most of these injuries are related to ankle, knee or joint sprains. Approximately 2 million ankle injuries occur each year in the United States (making up 20% of sports injuries).
When you sustain an injury in your ankle, knee or other joint, the first thing you notice is that it starts to swell up and it becomes painful. This is when R.I.C.E. is most effective.
According to the Dutch Quality Institute for Healthcare CBO Consensus Guidelines, R.I.C.E. therapy is recommended treatment for the first 4 to 5 days following the injury. Not only does it reduce swelling and pain, but it also promotes healing and recovery. It is a popular method employed by sports trainers and athletic health experts.
What is R.I.C.E Therapy?
R.I.C.E. is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is a first aid treatment for acute musculoskeletal injuries that involve tendonitis, ligament strain, muscle/tendon strain, and more.
How to Administer R.I.C.E. Treatment
Rest – As soon as you sustain the injury, rest the affected area. Do not engage in any activity that can further aggravate the pain or ache for the next 24 to 48 hours. For an injury to the foot or ankle, it is advisable you lie down in a comfortable position to reduce swelling and the pain.
Ice – Cold will help to reduce the pain and inflammation. Apply ice on the injured area 20 minutes at a time at every 4 hours. You can use an ice pack or crushed ice covered by a damp towel. Do not apply ice it directly to the skin. You can also use a bag of frozen peas, corn or other vegetables, also wrapped in a damp towel.
Compression – Compress the area by wrapping it in an elastic medical bandage to reduce swelling and internal bleeding. Do not make it too tight, so as not to cut off blood circulation and cause more swelling below the affected area. If you feel pins and needles in the affected area or any color change, it means the bandage is too tight and you may have to loosen it.
Elevation – Raise up the injured area on pillows above the level of your heart for as long as you can sustain it. It will help reduce bleeding and swelling.
R.I.C.E therapy is effective for alleviating the symptoms from foot and ankle problems such as ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, achilles injuries and bunions, especially when applied for 48-72 hours following injury. However, if you are experiencing severe pain or limited mobility, it is advisable for you to consult a medical professional. Dr. Maislos is a board certified Houston podiatrist with an office conveniently located in Southwest Houston. He serves patients from Houston, Sugar Land, Rosenberg, Katy, Spring, The Woodlands, Pearland and other surrounding areas. Call (713) 341-5199 to schedule an appointment.