RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This method is a long standing recommendation for routine care for bumps, bruises, sprains, strains and fractures.
Rest is required to allow your body to heal. Typically following bumps and bruises, your everyday activities may be resumed when you are comfortable. Often patients are encouraged to let “pain be their guide” as to what activities they can tolerate. For tendon and ligament injuries, it might take longer. In fact, these structures may take 6-8 weeks to heal. A bony contusion may actually take up to 3 months for discomfort to significantly improve.
Ice following an injury will help keep swelling down and also helps with discomfort. Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Apply the ice in a plastic bag wrapped in a towel to prevent frostbite to the skin. Icing the injury should be done every 2 hours for 20 minutes while awake for the first 24-48 hours following and injury. After 48 hours, please check with your provider on how frequently to apply ice. (Quick tip: To make a homemade ice pack: 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water, gets really cold, but never hardens so you can manipulate it.)
Compression helps reduce swelling, gives support and helps with discomfort. When wrapping with an ACE bandage (stretchy, elastic wrapping bandage) it is important to remove and reapply every 3-4 hours unless instructed otherwise by your provider. The wrap should be applied firmly enough to keep swelling down. Watch your fingers or toes for swelling, bluish discoloration, coldness, numbness or excessive pain. If any or these problems occur, remove the bandage and reapply more loosely. If your symptoms persist beyond loosening the bandage, please contact your provider.
Elevation helps reduce swelling and decreases pain. With extremities (arms and legs), the injured area should be placed above heart level if possible. For example: Lying on your back on the couch or bed with the leg propped up on pillows.
Source: Exitcare, LLC 3-26-09