First Aid Basics – RICE Treatment

For joint or muscular injuries that do not require immediate medical attention such as sprains and strains, RICE treatment is the most effective form of care. The term “RICE” is an acronym for the individual treatment components: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Simply remember the term “RICE” and follow the steps below to give proper RICE injury treatment each time it is needed.


Immediately resting the injured area for at least 24 to 48 hours is extremely important. Working through the pain or ignoring the injury will only serve to make it worse, and can sometimes cause permanent damage in extreme cases. Always listen to your body: refrain from any particular movements or activities are causing you pain, and allow the injury time to heal. You might even need to use crutches or a sling to sufficiently rest the affected area.


To continue with proper RICE treatment you will need to ice the sprain or strain about every 3 to 4 hours for 20 minutes at a time. This cycle should continue for at least 48 hours following the injury. There are many different ways to ice an injury, so you should simply choose the method that is the most comfortable for you. Popular methods are: frozen bags of vegetables, an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel, or a freezer bag of ice cubes. Never ice an injury for more than 20 minutes at a time. Excessive contact with extreme cold could cause tissue damage.


You will need to compress the area during the elevation stage. An Ace bandage is the best compression tool; simply wrap it around the affected area making sure it overlaps the elastic by one half-width. The bandage should be snug, but it should not cut off any circulation. If your fingers or toes become cold or start to tingle, re-wrap immediately using less force.


Lastly, make sure that you comfortably elevate the sprain or strain during this last part of the RICE treatment. Elevate for as long as possible and try to keep the injury above the level of your heart for best results.

Remember to continue RICE injury treatment for at least 48 hours following the initial sprain or strain. If the injury worsens or you notice unnatural swelling or discoloration of the area, be sure to have it immediately examined by a medical professional.

To learn more about RICE treatment and other first aid related techniques, visit SimpleCPR to take your own standard first aid course today!

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