RICE: Routine Care for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains

The routine care of many injuries includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE).

  • Rest is needed to allow your body to heal. Routine activities can usually be resumed when comfortable. Injured tendons (cord-like structures that attach muscle to bone) and bones take approximately six weeks to heal.
  • Ice following an injury helps keep the swelling down and reduces pain. Do not apply ice directly to skin. Apply ice bags (ice in a plastic bag with a towel around it to prevent frostbite to skin) about every 2 hours for 20 minutes, while awake, to the injured area for the first 24 hours to 48 hours. After that, continue as directed by your caregiver.
  • Compression helps keep swelling down. It also gives support and helps with discomfort. If an ace bandage (stretchy, elastic wrapping bandage) has been applied today, it should be removed and reapplied every 3 to 4 hours. It should not be applied tightly, but firmly enough to keep swelling down. Watch fingers or toes for swelling, bluish discoloration, coldness, numbness, or excessive pain. If any of these symptoms (problems) occur, remove the ace bandage and reapply loosely. Contact your caregiver or return to this location if these symptoms persist.
  • Elevation helps reduce swelling and decreases pain. With extremities (arms/hands and legs/feet), the injured area should be placed near to or above the heart area if possible.

Persistent pain and inability to use the injured area for more than 2 to 3 days are warning signs. You should see a caregiver for a follow-up visit as soon as possible.

Persistent pain and swelling indicate that further evaluation, possible use of crutches, and/or further X-rays are needed. X-rays may sometimes not show a small fracture until a week or ten days later.

For more information about R.I.C.E., please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).