RICE first aid for minor injuries

26th October 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Backpain

What is RICE and why do we use it for Injuries

Rice is used for soft tissue injuries that commonly occur in sports, at home and the work enviroment. Soft tissue injury refers to sprains, strains, muscle pull or tears. The first treatment action is first aid aimed at preventing further damage and to help you recover more quickly.

This immediate action is called RICE

Rest ~ Ice ~ Compression ~ Elevation

The purpose of RICE is to relieve pain, manage the swelling and to protect the injured part/soft tissue.

The soft tissue injury can swell, bruise or bleed (internally or externally), the injured area becomes inflamed.

(The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue

repair. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammation)

Injury repair comes from the body replacing the damage tissue with collagen, often described as scar tissue.


RICE and the treatment of soft tissue injury

Rest: You need to prevent further irritation, protect the injured area and allow the recovery response to work effectively, if there is no rest given little knocks can become more serious and force you to stops your sports for a great amount of time. If you are injured on field or cannot stand up get help avoiding weight bearing.

Ice: there are 2 main points to ice applied to the area, pain relief for the short term and to limit the swelling, cold causes a constriction of the blood vessels there by reducing blood flow to the area.

The ice or ice pack should not be applied directly, covering with a thin materiel such as a tea towel is recommended. As well as avoiding direct contact the time should be limited and not applied for more than 10 minutes, prolonged exposure can actually damage the skin, severe cases are frostbite and nerve damage.

10 minutes is the maximum to leave on an ice compress and then leave the body to warm up naturally.

Compression: Compression limits the swelling; the object is to manage and not to stop the swelling as this can actually delay the healing process. A bandage is an effective method to compress an area, too tight and it will throb and can increase the pain.

Elevation: Elevating an injury means raising the injured part above the level of the heart, provided it is safe to do so, this is the most effective position to help control swelling.

It can be easy to elevate an arm but other parts may not be so you may need to change body position such as lying down with you leg propped up with a blanket or pillow.

After 48 hours of treatment many soft tissue injuries will begin to recover and repair, if your symptoms are still there or have increased in nature go to the A&E department for further assessment, or see your healthcare practitioner such as osteopath, chiropractor, sports therapist, rehabilitation therapist or physiotherapist.

An assessment will give a better picture and a treatment plan can be put in place to assist recovery and rehabilitation ultimately getting you back to the sport or activity you love.