The importance of the RICE Method for sprain, injury & recovery.

The importance of the RICE Method for sprain, injury & recovery.

What Is the RICE Method for Injuries?

Medically Reviewed by Sanjay Ponkshe on May 06, 2023 

If you’ve ever had a sprain or strain, chances are your doctor recommended rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) as one of your first treatments. The RICE method is a simple self-care technique that helps reduce swelling, ease pain, and speed up healing.

You can treat minor injuries with the RICE method. You might try it if you have an achy knee, ankle, or wrist sprain or strain after exercise of playing sports. 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:

Pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong. As soon as you’re hurt, stop your activity, and rest as much as possible for the first 2 days. Don’t try to follow the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. Doing so with certain injuries, like a moderate to severe ankle sprain, can make the damage worse and delay your recovery. Doctors say you should avoid putting weight on the injured area for 24 to 48 hours. Resting also helps prevent further bruising.

Ice is a tried-and-true tool for reducing pain and swelling. However, it can cause ice burn and also be impractical.  So a cooling bandage may be more safe and effective and should be used repeatedly for the first 24 to 48 hours after your injury.  

This means wrapping the injured area to prevent swelling. Wrap the affected area with an elastic medical bandage. 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.

This means raising the sore body part above the level of your heart. Doing so reduces pain, throbbing, and swelling. It’s not as tricky to do as you might think. 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.