RICE, or PRICE, or PRICEM (it’s starting to get out of hand) is the classic first treatment for an acute strain, sprain, or any other injury. It mostly deals with protecting the injury and dealing with swelling and perhaps excessive inflammation.
RICE is: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The fancy new additions are: P: Protect, and M: Movement. So lets go through them:
P – Protect: Use a brace, taping, sling, or anything that can stop it from moving and sustaining more damage.
R – Rest: Don’t use the injured body part. This is even more important if its a muscle strain, because it is easily disrupted early in the healing process. Not the same as P – Protect, as you protect from involuntary harm, and rest from voluntary activity. For more info, see Rest for Injuries.
I – Ice: Excellent for reducing inflammation by causing your blood vessels to constrict, therefore slowing blood flow. Also numbs the pain. Feels good. See: How to Ice.
C – Compression: In some cases, this also helps it from swelling too much. Like a tight sock. Some braces and taping from above accomplish this at the same time.
E – Elevation: If you sprained your ankle, sleep with a few pillows under it, so the inflammation drains back into the body. This is not always a problem if you hurt something higher up (closer to your head).
M – Movement: Generally, research has shown that early movement of almost any injury can improve your outcome. This new research is why M has been added only recently. Be careful at first, respecting the pain. For example, start with gentle movement through the pain-free range of movement.
P.R.I.C.E. is the basic, simple medication-free way of managing a new injury. After a few days, it’s generally safe, and encouraged, for you to start more active movement of the injured limb, while still trying to avoid too much pain. Be careful!
If you’re confused, or if the swelling lasts for more than 3-4 days and you can barely touch it without severe pain, you may want to go see a health professional.
That’s the basics!