What is the RICE Method for Treating Injuries?

December 9, 2022
3 Min Read
What is the RICE Method for Treating Injuries?

For a mild soft tissue injury like a sprain, the RICE method, also known as RICE therapy, refers to the prompt administration of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. RICE is a well-known first aid technique created to assist control of blood flow, edema, and discomfort.

On the sporting field, at an accident scene, or home, it has the benefit of being easy enough for anybody to use.

RICE Method for Ankle and Other Body Parts

For soft tissue injuries including sprains, strains, and bruising, such as sprained ankles, knees, or muscles, RICE therapy is a first-aid procedure. It works best when used right after getting hurt, and it should be stopped within two days (48 hours).

RICE is frequently used by high school athletes, weekend warriors who get injuries by overexerting themselves, or anybody who sprains or "rolls" an ankle. It has its roots in sports medicine (one of the most common non-sports injuries).

There are four steps in the RICE treatment:


Protect the injured first from further stress. Stop all work immediately and relieve pressure on the damaged limb (for example, take your weight off your ankle or stop using your arm). Rest the injury if you can for 24 to 48 hours, or until you feel well enough to visit a doctor and/or utilize the affected limb or body part.


Apply a cold compress or bag of ice to the affected region to reduce swelling and discomfort. Avoid exposing your skin to the cold; instead, wrap up in garments or wrap the affected area in a towel. To reduce swelling, ice injuries for 20 minutes three times a day, or alternate between no ice and ice for 15 minutes at a time. Ice the injuries for up to 24 to 48 hours, just like with rest.


Compress the injury by wrapping it securely with an elastic Ace-style bandage, but not too tightly, to further minimize swelling (wrapping too snugly may cut off blood flow and increase swelling). The ability of an elastic bandage to stretch and let blood flow through the injured region makes it crucial. If you notice an increase in discomfort, numbness, tingling, chilling skin, or swelling in the region under the bandage, the wrap is excessively tight and your vessels are constrained (farther from the heart). Most of the time, compression may be eliminated after 48 to 72 hours.


Finally, elevate the wound at or above heart level using cushions. Enabling your blood to circulate past the injured site and back into your heart, doing promotes circulation. Elevation helps to reduce discomfort and swelling.

How the RICE Method for Knee and Other Body Parts Work

RICE decreases blood flow to the wounded region, preventing excessive post-injury edema and discomfort.

Why is it crucial to manage pain and swelling?

  • Loss of function may result from excessive edema. RICE therapy maintains the damaged body part's flexibility so that you can use it more quickly.
  • Painful swelling can be a serious problem. RICE eases discomfort. In particular, the cold relieves pain and inflammation.
  • Excessive swelling might cause the blood vessels to move more slowly.

Blood flow must be sufficient for all wounds to heal. However, excessive swelling in the case of bruising or sprains might hinder blood flow and prevent nutrients from reaching the injured area. This vascular narrowing may result in further tissue injury or other issues (especially in the extremities, like feet and fingers). RICE (particularly the ice) helps to decrease edema and encourages blood flow to the injured area.

Contact Us If You Need First Aid

RICE should not be used forever, please note. If a doctor doesn't specifically tell you to continue after the first two days, stop. Continued use of the RICE method for injury may cause the body's normal healing and inflammatory processes to be postponed.

However, RICE therapy has been shown to hasten recovery when applied right away after a sprain or strain and for up to 48 hours following an incident.

Call BASS Medical Group if you've strained or sprained an ankle. We can evaluate your situation and talk about the best course of action for you. We also have programs to assist you to get back into shape after an injury, including knee and shoulder conditioning.