Acute Injuries - “R.I.C.E.” Principal

Most people have heard about it, but many are confused as to what this acronym stands for and how important it is to kick start the healing process.

The “R.I.C.E.” principle in its expanded form stands for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATION. After injury, following the R.I.C.E. principle can limit swelling, protect the injured area, and relieve pain if used immediately.

In order to effectively put the “R.I.C.E.” principal to work for your injury, follow these steps:

  1. REST - this is important following injury in order to protect the injured area from further damage. Resting allows the body to use its energy effectively to heal the injured area. For instance, if you sprain your ankle, walking on the injured ankle can disrupt the healing process and prolong recovery.
  2. ICE - Applying ice to the injured area reduces blood flow and therefore reduces swelling. By reducing the swelling you are there by reducing the pain. There are many ways to apply ice, such as using crushed ice or a bag of peas, however it is good practice to place a moist thin towel between the ice and your skin. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes only. Leaving ice on for more than 20 minutes may cause unwanted damage to the skin and tissues. Leave ice off the area for at least 20 minutes before icing again. This process can be repeated many times throughout the day.
  3. COMPRESSION - Compression is another way to control swelling. Some people get temporary pain relief from compression. Use a tensor bandage to wrap the injured area If the injured area throbs or the bandage feels too tight, remove the bandage and wrap it more loosely. Compression is also a good way to protect the injured area from further damage.
  4. ELEVATION - Elevation is yet another way to reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. It involves raising the injured area above the level of the heart. For example, if you sprain your ankle, lie down on a bed or couch with your foot propped up on two or three pillows. Ideally, you can ice your ankle in this position, also.

If you are unsure as to the severity of the injury or you are unsure how to treat the injury, this is where an assessment by a physiotherapist can help guide your speedy recovery. Physiotherapy modalities such as electro physical agents, acupuncture and simple safe exercises can also assist in the healing process.

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