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reviewed 7/25/2018

Treating sports injuries

Learn more about the R.I.C.E. method.

Using the R.I.C.E. method is a good first treatment for mild sprains or strains.

R: Rest. Reduce your activity as needed. Use crutches if you need to.

I: Ice. Put ice on right away to keep swelling down. Use ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times a day. You can use a cold pack, an ice bag, or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel.

C: Compression. Compress the injured are to keep swelling down and support the injured area. You can use elastic wraps, air casts, splints or special boots.

E: Elevation. Keep the injured area elevated on a pillow above the level of your heart, if possible. This will help reduce swelling.

Get help if:

  • The injury causes severe pain, swelling or numbness.
  • You can't put any weight on the injured area.
  • The pain or ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling, or joint abnormality or instability.
  • Pain or other symptoms worsen after using R.I.C.E.

The benefits of R.I.C.E. include pain relief, reduced inflammation and faster healing.

Start R.I.C.E. right after a mild sprain or strain. Continue for at least 48 hours.

Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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