RICE Therapy for Sprains & Strains
RICE stands for the important elements in treating injuries: Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation.
REST: Stop using the injured body part as soon as you realize it is injured! Use crutches to avoid bearing weight on injured feet, ankles, knees, & legs. Use splints for injured hands, wrists or arms. Use slings for injured elbows. Continued exercise or participation in the activity could further injury or delay the healing.
ICE: Ice/cool compresses help stop bleeding and swelling by constricting blood vessels. Ice can be applied safely in many ways:
1. For small areas (feet, toes, hands, fingers) immerse the injury in a bucket of ice water.
2. For larger areas, use ice packs wrapped in a cloth or towel or a bag of frozen peas.
3. Cool injury for 15-30 minutes and then remove the ice pack for 15 minutes. Keep repeating this pattern.
COMPRESSION: Compression helps minimize swelling by restricting fluid and blood in the tissue from leaking into the area. Using an elastic wrap or commercially made brace is fine. BE CAREFUL NOT TO APPLY TOO MUCH PRESSURE THAT BLOOD FLOW IS IMPAIRED. Signs that compression is too tight: increased pain, blue color, cramping, numbness, capillary refill over 5 seconds. If any of these occur loosen the compress.
ELEVATION: Raising the affected extremity above the level of the heart is another way to decrease swelling.
Unless the injury has a bone sticking out of the skin, has an abnormal deformity or has evidence of problems with vascular compromise/ trouble with blood flow past the injury, we would have a family use RICE therapy and follow up in the office in the next 24-48 hours.