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 this swelling, relieve pain, and promote flexibility and healing.
RICE stands for:
- Rest: Avoiding use of the injured area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
- Ice: Applying ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables to the area, without them touching the skin directly. If you don’t have an ice pack handy, an alternative would be to use a bag of frozen peas, corn. Try not to ice the injury for more than 20 minutes at a time, as it may actually cause further tissue damage. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts. Do not apply ice or heat directly to the skin. Place a towel over the cold or heat pack before applying it to the skin.
- Compression: Wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage to provide support, reduce blood flow, and limit swelling. Don’t wrap it too tightly, because this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be present.
- Elevation: Keeping the area raised above the level of the heart to reduce swelling. For example, if you have an ankle sprain, you can prop your leg up on pillows while sitting on the sofa. The CDC recommends you keep the injured area raised whenever possible, even when you’re not icing it.
While using the R.I.C.E. method, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help to reduce swelling and pain. With these tips, a sprain, strain, or other minor injury can be easily treated and get you back in the game as soon as possible.