One of the most popular acronyms to remember if you get a sports injury such as a sprain, strain, muscle pull, tear or any other form of soft tissue injury, is R.I.C.E, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Using these immediate first aid measures is believed to relieve pain, limit swelling, protect the injured soft tissue, prevent complications and help you heal faster.
Rest is a key component of repairing the body. Without rest, continual strain is placed on the affected area, leading to increased inflammation, pain, and possible further injury so Activity should be reduced. Additionally, some soft tissue injuries will take longer to heal without rest. There is also a risk of abnormal repair or chronic inflammation resulting from a failure to rest.
Ice provides short-term pain relief, reduces the inflammatory response and limits swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area. Apply ice for 20 minutes at a stretch for 3 or more times a day for first 72 hours.
Compression aims to reduce the edematous swelling that results from the inflammatory process. Although some swelling is inevitable, too much swelling results in significant loss of function, excessive pain and eventual slowing of blood flow through vessel restriction.
An elastic bandage, rather than a firm plastic bandage (such as zinc-oxide tape) is required. Usage of a tight, non-elastic bandage will result in reduction of adequate blood flow, potentially causing ischemia. The fit should be snug so as to not move freely, but still allow expansion for when muscles contract and fill with blood.
Compression stockings are a viable option to manage swelling with graded compression. These garments are especially effective post-operatively and are used in virtually all hospitals to manage acute or chronic swelling, such as congestive heart failure.
|Elastic crape bandages|
Elevation of the injured area above the level of heart helps to reduce swelling by increasing venous return of blood to the systemic circulation. This will result in less edema which reduces pain.
|Elevation of foot|