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When Is it Best to Use RICE Therapy?

When Is it Best to Use RICE Therapy?

The possibility of injury is always present whenever you're active, especially in organized sports and exercise. Injuries to the joints, like the ankles or knees, often result in inflammation and pain. 

The experienced orthopedic specialists at Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center in Henderson and Las Vegas recommend RICE therapy to reduce swelling, promote healing, and relieve pain.

RICE therapy involves the immediate application of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to specific injuries to help manage the swelling, relieve pain, and improve blood flow. It offers the advantage of being a simple treatment method you can use just about anywhere — while still on the athletic field, at the site of the accident or injury, or at home.

When to use RICE therapy

The Nevada Orthopedic & Spine team recommends RICE therapy as a first-aid treatment for soft tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, and bruises. The treatment is best used immediately upon sustaining an injury — it's not meant to be a long-term treatment. 

If you're still resting, icing, compressing, and elevating an injury after two days, and it's not getting better, it's time to make an appointment or visit the Fast Track Urgent Care Clinic! Unless your doctor directs you to continue RICE therapy, you should stop using the treatment after 48 hours, as it could delay the natural healing process.

RICE is essential to get you past an injury's initial pain and swelling so you can return to physical activity and begin the healing process. RICE helps reduce blood flow to the injured area and keeps swelling and pain from increasing.

Excessive swelling limits the functionality or mobility of the injured site, which not only causes pain, but can also take the injury longer to recover. It's difficult to walk on a sprained ankle that can't bend due to swelling. 

How to do the RICE treatment

RICE therapy treatment is commonly used for high school or college sports injuries, in sports medicine, and when someone sprains their ankle or gets hurt from over-exercising. The therapy contains four easy steps:

1. Rest 

Stop all activity immediately upon sustaining the injury to take the weight off it. Rest for up to 48 hours, until you can use the body part without pain, or until you visit the doctor for directions.

2. Ice 

Apply ice packs to the injured area, wrapping the ice in a towel or applying it over clothing to prevent the ice from making direct contact with the skin. Apply for 20 minutes at a time, three times per day, for 24 to 48 hours.

3. Compression

Wrap the injury with an ACE-style elastic bandage to reduce swelling. If you experience increased pain or tingling from the bandage, you’ve wrapped it too tightly. Remove compression bandages after 48 hours or at your doctor's direction.

4. Elevation 

Use pillows to keep your injured body part at heart level or above as much as possible. Elevation improves circulation and prevents additional swelling and pain.

If you've hurt yourself and suspect a strain or sprain, call Nevada Orthopedic & Spine at either location, or visit our Fast Track Clinic for same-day appointments. Our orthopedic specialists will examine you and discuss the appropriate treatment plan. You can also schedule an appointment online.

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