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Sunday, 21 July 2013

R.I.C.E. Therapy

Well, i must be fair & give due credit to that last push up gone bad which has forced me to write this blog post. Ouch !

R.I.C.E. is a basic level of first aid which is extensively used by healthcare practitioners around the world in acute soft tissue injury cases.

R = Rest
I = Ice
C = Compression
E = Elevation

Be it a muscular strain or a sprain around joint, RICE therapy is absolutely critical to bring the pain down instantly & control the long term deleterious effects of swelling. An acute trauma to soft tissues may cause instant swelling & unbearable pain around the affected area of body. The causes of trauma can be numerous - you fell from a table, smashed your thumb by hammer or any object, injured while playing sports, fight with your peers, roadside accident etc.

1. REST - Avoid moving the affected region. So, if it's a smashed finger then just don't move your fingers. Keep them immobile. Movement in pain can lead to increase in the inflammation or swelling.

2. ICE - This is critical & very important. Apply ice-packs on & around the affected region. Ice or a cold environment helps decrease the swelling. If swelling persists, it may lead to stiffness which may in turn reduce movements in future. Hence, it is important to reduce swelling as early as possible else, your physiotherapy sessions may increase. 
If you don't have ice packs, just put crushed ice in a plastic bag & seal it to avoid leakage.

How to apply ice packs: Don't just put ice pack or crushed ice as is. Soak a towel in water & place that wet towel on the affected area. On top of that wet towel put ice packs. Wet towel will ensure that the affected area is not exposed to too much of cold temperature. (Caution: too much cold can also damage tissues).

3. COMPRESSION - Compression also targets at reducing the swelling around the affected area. But this should only be done by trained healthcare professional because compression done wrongly can actually increase the pain & swelling in that region.

4. ELEVATION - By elevating the part, we're not allowing the fluid to accumulate at one place. Elevation aids in the movement of the fluid & helps reduce swelling eventually. Hence, if you've a sprained ankle, it's advisable to lie on your back and elevate the affected leg by putting a pillow under the leg. 

An illustration of Rice, Icing, Compression & Elevation therapy for Knee Sprain
RICE Therapy for Knee Sprain

 (Image source:

By and large, you would have noticed that all these methods aim at reducing the swelling around the affected area.

Pain killers (medicines/sprays) along with RICE Therapy can significantly reduce pain & swelling.

Note: RICE therapy is beneficial only in cases of acute injury & not when it's chronic.

Have a Healthy Living !

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