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RICE: Immediate action following an injury

You know when an injury occurs. There may be pain, swelling, bruising or even bleeding. The first and best thing to do is to apply the RICE formula; a tried and tested treatment for reducing pain and swelling and preparing the body for the next stage of treatment. Many sports injuries such as muscle strains, sprains and fractures heal faster when RICE is used immediately following an injury.

The acronym RICE stands for

Rest: Forcing yourself to go on when there are signs of an injury is not only damaging to the tissue but also unwise. It prevents healing from taking place and may prolong the injury. Rest is important to protect the injured muscle, tendon or ligament from further injury.

Ice: Cold provides short-term pain relief. An ice pack or even a pack of frozen peas may be wrapped in a towel and placed on another towel on the skin. Never apply ice directly to the skin, and do not leave on longer than twenty minutes.

Compression: This reduces the swelling which occurs when blood and other substances rush to the site of an injury. Applying compression bandage snugly over the part gets rid of the swelling and reduces the pain as well. Take care not to over-tighten the bandage, as it will restrict blood flow.

Elevation: Resting with the injured part above the level of the heart is the best means of relieving swelling. While sitting, you should elevate the leg on a chair or stool. If it is the arm, you may use pillows or cushions. Use pillows when lying in bed for either the arm or leg.

For any injury, it is important to check with your physiotherapist or doctor as soon as possible. Mild injuries may need no further intervention than the above, but this decision should be made by a professional.


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